Army Corps Of Engineers Visits John Muir High School

Published : Monday, February 26, 2018 | 6:24 PM

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District retiree Jody Fischer, center, answers a question posed by a high school student about her career in engineering, while Capt. David Watts, left, and 1st Lt. Kerry Horan, right, look on during the John Muir High School’s Engineering and Environmental Science Academy School Exploration Showcase Feb. 14 in Pasadena. The showcase was part of the school’s Engineer Week. Photo by Dena O'Dell

Three representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District came to Pasadena’s John Muir High School on Valentine’s Day to spread a different kind of love – a love of engineering.

Two Corps officers, Capt. David Watts and First Lt. Kerry Horan, and recent Corps retiree Jody Fischer, shared their experiences with John Muir students during the school’s Engineering and Environmental Science Academy Career Exploration Showcase, part of the school’s Engineering Week, a Department of Defense press release said Sunday.

Throughout the day, students in ninth to 12th grades rotated to different tables – including the Corps’ – set up in the library to speak with people from various agencies in the engineering and environmental sciences fields.

Many of the questions were about the representatives’ careers, what their day-to-day responsibilities are, why they chose to work for their agency, what were their career dreams high school, what the most challenging aspects of their jobs are, and what are the characteristics of successful employees, among others.

Watts is an engineer in the Emergency Management Office with the Corps. He told the students about his passion for cars while growing up, until he decided to become a mechanical engineer.

“When I was in high school, I realized one of my passions was cars – working on cars, making them go faster and making them perform better,” he said. “So when I got to college and went to pick my major, I tried to line it up with something interesting to me, so I could continue to pursue my passions.”

Fischer is a 1978 John Muir High alumna who retired as Levee Safety Program manager with the Corps in December. She said she enjoys sharing her work experience and opportunities with the younger generation.

“I’m proud to have worked for the Corps of Engineers for 35 years because I had an enjoyable career,” she said. “I had great leaders to work for, and I felt accomplished in my job. I always enjoy talking to younger people about their career choices and sharing with them what’s available.”

Watts shared what kind of credentials the Corps would look for when hiring potential employees.

“If you are an entry-level engineer, it would be an undergraduate degree in whichever engineering discipline you are looking for,” he said. “If you’re looking for senior engineering jobs, it’s a professional license. For project management, it’s a project management license.”

Horan works with the Hydrology and GIS section at the Corps. She said it’s important to show students what’s available in terms of engineering careers, and the impact the Corps has in their communities.

“The Corps of Engineers is in every major city… we do projects in their communities, we have an impact in their communities,” she said. “It’s important to show them what those contributions are, so when they see certain things they can say, ‘Oh, that’s the Corps of Engineers.’ I think it’s important to have that situational awareness of what’s going on.”

The Corps of Engineers offers a variety of jobs in various disciplines including engineering, biology, construction management, project management, real estate, geology, emergency management, and hydrology, among many others. Students and employees can apply for internships and jobs with the Corps at

Watts said some of the most challenging and exciting aspects of his job is bringing all of the different entities together to make a project successful.

“As a federal organization, we not only work with the U.S. government, we’re also working with state, county and city governments, and different organizations and groups to make a project successful,” he said. “It’s bringing everyone together on the team and making that team successful by uniting them around a common goal.”

In Los Angeles, the Corps of Engineers is actively involved in large infrastructure projects including the rehabilitation of the Los Angeles River and its tributaries.

Aside from the Corps of Engineers, other organizations that participated in the career showcase at John Muir High School included NASA, the U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Los Angeles World Airport, Architecture for Education and other engineering agencies.







blog comments powered by Disqus