Kelly Wun, a high school senior, had a chance to learn directly from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District employees at the district compound in Seoul on Nov. 5.
Scott Bittner, a science teacher at Seoul American High School, selected Wun for this job-shadowing opportunity from eight student-candidates, in recognition of her leadership and academic interests.
The opportunity came with a bit of a sacrifice, however, because the SATs were to be held the same day. Wun said her father felt the job shadowing was clearly a unique priority.
“He said I can take the SAT next month,” she said.
Ms. Pamela J. Lovasz, geotechnical section chief, explained why this was such a great opportunity.
“Our geotechnical branch is very unique because we perform most of our work in-house, which means we have operational testing laboratories where we test for soil and rock properties in order to provide design recommendations that will go to construction,” Lovasz said.
Before the job shadowing, Wun said she considered herself to be more interested in biology, and somewhat uninformed about this particular science.
“I didn’t know anything about geology,” she said.
By the end of her day with the Far East District, meeting and shadowing several employees, and observing the use of various types of equipment on hand in the geotechnical branch, she’d learned quite a bit. Wun’s morning began with a grounding in the applied geotechnical engineering expertise. This know-how is needed at the ground level for the enormous amount of construction taking place at Camp Humphreys.
After this grounding in the practical value of the earth sciences, Wun shadowed geotechnical engineers and had a tour of the materials testing lab from Mr. Kwang-Chin Kim, who explained basic theories and concepts of soil and concrete testing to her, and provided some handouts to take home.
In the afternoon, Wun shadowed employees in the environmental section. She watched chemists Mr. Kyong-Ho Kim and Mr. Yo-Sep Song, led by supervisory chemist, Dr. Son-Chu Chon. Kim demonstrated identification of asbestos fibers in a lab, and Song showed how to use a field testing kit to screen for petroleum-contaminated soil.
The day concluded by meeting with Lt. Col. Timika M. Wilson, Deputy Commander of the Far East District. Because she is the battalion commander in her school’s Junior ROTC program, Wun said she appreciated this particularly relevant mentoring opportunity, and she had many questions to ask. Wilson delivered not only the answers and advice Wun sought, but offered a plethora of other guidance about her future.
“The world is your oyster,” Wilson said. “Don’t just do the school-endorsed tour.”
Asked what she would change if she could, Wun offered only one suggestion:
“I would like to come here more often,” she said. “I would definitely sign up again.”