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Cadet intern builds skills at Army Corps of Engineers, New York District; describes West Point experience as ‘phenomenal’

Public Affairs
Published Sept. 2, 2014
U.S. Army Cadet Jacob Woicik, a senior at the University of Wyoming in fall 2014 in the Cowboy Battalion Reserve Officer Training Corps, spent most of July 2014 interning for the Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point ─ the oldest continuously-occupied military post in America located 50 miles north of New York City.

U.S. Army Cadet Jacob Woicik, a senior at the University of Wyoming in fall 2014 in the Cowboy Battalion Reserve Officer Training Corps, spent most of July 2014 interning for the Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point ─ the oldest continuously-occupied military post in America located 50 miles north of New York City.

NEW YORK--U.S. Army Cadet Jacob Woicik, a senior at the University of Wyoming in fall 2014 in the Cowboy Battalion Reserve Officer Training Corps, spent most of July 2014 interning for the Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point ─ the oldest continuously-occupied military post in America located 50 miles north of New York City.

NUMEROUS LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Earning a degree in civil engineering, Cadet Woicik was assigned to the North Atlantic Division Engineering Branch, sponsored by Capt. Benjamin Shean. Several developmental experiences included administrative work (filing daily reports), assisting with developing and executing informational briefings (one to West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Casien, Jr.), and studying ─ in real time ─ how blast regulations help identify safe levels of expended energy for surrounding structures, including nearby historic buildings. (Rock blasting in summer 2014 is clearing space for a new cadet barracks.)

Other areas of learning were field-based: Jacob said West Point, located in a heavily-wooded area with uneven terrain, forced him to change tactics when leading a command. He’s used to training in Wyoming with large areas of open space and low-growing vegetation. Nonetheless he relished the challenge, describing his experiences at West Point as “absolutely phenomenal.” 

In an interview, Woicik spoke about a site visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey with District leadership. There he surveyed two major construction projects: a new research and development hangar to refurbish aircraft with communications and electronic equipment, and extensive renovations to two taxiways at the air base requiring so much concrete that an on-site plant was constructed. (Taxiways connect parking/maintenance areas with runways.)  

MILITARY vs. CIVILIAN WORK STYLE

Interpersonal relations also proved valuable. Interacting with Army leadership ─ colonels, captains and  sergeants ─ was an excellent learning experience as Jacob had little training in this area. He also noted different approaches to work: a military style he’s accustomed to (fast-paced, strict deadlines, long hours and spot decision making), contrasted with a civilian approach providing more time for planning and discussion. Learning this was important as the Army Corps of Engineers is overwhelmingly civilian ─ just 600 military staff out of 37,000 employees worldwide ─ that Jacob said was “A big eye-opener for me.”

PERSPECTIVE & PLANS

When asked how the internship will help him, Jacob mentioned a greater ability to communicate with leadership and viewing work assignments from a civilian perspective. If he were advising students about ROTC, he would emphasize the commitment ─ 2-4 years of rigorous academic, physical and military training ─ and place less emphasis on the financial benefits (full college scholarships). He said ROTC was both challenging  rewarding, noting there’s “things you won’t get to do in ordinary life.”

Going forward, Cadet Woicik plans to earn a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering or project management and work for the Army Corps of Engineers, possibly as a captain. This was his second visit to the District: in summer 2012 he attended air assault school at Camp Smith in Peekskill, N.Y.
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