PHOENIX – Taylor Brown, a student trainee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, discovered career opportunities early on in construction engineering as the daughter of an electrician.
Additionally, several members of her family on her mother’s side also work in construction, she said, which piqued her interest in the field.
“I decided to get a degree and work in the field of construction engineering because I saw the career opportunities from my family working in the construction field,” Brown said. “They got to work on unique projects and travel throughout their time in construction.”
Now a senior at Arizona State University, Brown will graduate in May with a degree in construction engineering. Once she graduates, she will become a full-time Department of the Army intern with the Corps’ LA District.
“The construction engineering degree program at Arizona State University stood out to me,” she said. “I like how I get to learn about civil engineering and construction management practices.”
For the last several months, Brown has been working with the LA District’s International and Interagency Branch in Arizona, as well as with other project managers in the district’s Construction Division.
Her big break with the Corps came in 2022, when Brown attended an American Indian Science and Engineering Society Conference in Phoenix.
AISES is a national organization that supports and represents Native Americans in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields. Brown has been a member of AISES since high school, she recalled, when her sister convinced her to attend a few of the organization’s meetings.
At the conference, Brown was offered an internship with the Corps, after speaking with John Drake, chief of the IIS for the LA District, and Brig. Gen. Antoinette Gant, South Pacific Division commander.
Brown said she chose the Corps because it had its own construction division and the agency had worked on projects close to her home.
“There were projects the Corps did close to home – Navajo Nation – and their involvement with AISES that sparked my interest in the organization,” she said. “I do like working for the Corps because I get to work on various projects. I have met people, who love what they are doing.”
In addition to her work for the La District and her upcoming college graduation, Brown also participates on a Concrete Solutions team for the university.
She, along with her teammates, recently took first place in the Concrete Solutions competition, sponsored by Sundt Construction, at the Associated Schools of Construction Regions 6 and 7 Student Competition and Construction Management Conference Feb. 7-10 near Reno, Nevada.
“We were given about 12 hours to completed deliverables, such as scheduling, take-offs, estimating, site logistics, safety plans, quality plans and more,” Brown said. “The next day we presented our work to Sundt, followed by a question-and-answer session.
“Our team did great during the competition. It was the whole teams’ first time at Reno, and we got first place. Our team assigned tasks to each member, so we knew what was expected of us during the competition … I did the concrete scheduling and labor projection for the team.”
As Brown looks forward to her upcoming graduation and continued work with the Corps, she said she hopes to use her construction engineering degree to better her community.
“I hope I get to work on projects with Native American communities while I’m with the Corps, such as the Navajo Nation Watershed Study,” she said. “I’ve met people, who have been with the Corps their whole careers. I like the Corps because of the opportunities it has offered to me.”