LOS ANGELES—Two future Army officers took advantage of a rare opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the inner-workings of the Corps of Engineers as part of a summer internship program, which they each successfully completed Aug. 8.
Cadet Chris Lillie, a junior in the University of Notre Dame’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program, and Cadet Mackenzie Vaughn, a senior at the U.S. Military Academy, were each selected to participate in the three week long program, which allows them to work alongside district subject matter experts. Lillie and Vaughn were assigned to work in the district’s Interagency and International Support Division.
As part of the program, each cadet was assigned a specific functional area to assess and streamline. Lillie, a 20-year-old native of Rochester, Mich., was assigned to develop a template to facilitate project management continuity. Vaughn, 23, of Olalla, Wash., was assigned the task of making recommendations for streamlining the district’s data management. Their findings were presented to engineer officers assigned to the district and civilian leaders on the final day of their internship.
Ken Morris, assistant deputy engineer of the district’s Programs and Project Management Division, lauded their efforts and recognized them for being selected for the internship.
“I think you both had a chance to do something incredible. Most don’t get a chance to do this,” Morris said. “You guys are going to be our future. You’ll be carrying on the banner. So I think it’s important that you are able to apply what you’ve learned here, because you will take on the mantle of leadership one day and take us even further than where we are right now.”
Lillie and Vaughn also visited several of the district’s ongoing projects, including military construction projects at Fort Irwin, civil works efforts at Prado Dam, and construction at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles. Working with project managers, the cadets were able to see a cross-section of the many services the Corps provides.
“I learned a lot about the dynamics of the Corps because it’s so different from the way the regular Army works,” Lillie said. “I actually got to learn a lot about being an Army officer, especially in engineering, because I got to spend a lot of time with some officers out here and they really gave me some great perspective.”
Vaughn said the experience she gained from the internship was invaluable.
“You need to have a very high level of communication between all the groups involved for everything to come together to be able to finish a project and that’s definintely something I’m taking back with me to West Point,” Vaughn said. “Relationship skills are definitely a huge part of the job. I don’t think that can be understated enough.”
Lillie and Vaughn left the bright lights of Los Angeles and headed back to their respective programs to complete their education and receive their commissions.