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Posted 2/29/2012

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By Jo Anita Miley
Huntsville Center

ALABAMA — National Engineers Week was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers in conjunction with the birthday of President George Washington, who is considered the nation's first engineer.

The purpose of National Engineers Week is to call attention to the contributions engineers make in society. It is also a time for engineers to emphasize the importance of mentoring the next generation of engineers.
To recognize Engineer Week at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntsville Center's engineering directorate invited students from Alabama A&M University's Changing Lanes Mentoring Program to participate in a mentoring opportunity.

Boyce Ross, director of engineering at Huntsville Center, acted as host for the event. Engineering Directorate employees Roderick Bridgeman, Jeff Coulston, Kimberly Edwards, Ray Hall, Betina Johnson, Bryant Marshburn, John Nevels, Terry Patton, April Rafael-Adams, Tony Torres and Roy Wright spent the afternoon with Alabama A&M students during two mentoring sessions. The sessions provided an overview of Huntsville Center and hands-on mentoring. Topics included Corps of Engineers and Huntsville Center history, a business model, Huntsville Center programs, advances in the engineering field, education and training, and how to best approach a future at Huntsville Center.

Lt. Col. William Burruss, Huntsville Center deputy commander, gave the group a brief overview of the center, and shared personal experiences from his engineering career. Atidya Williams, work force development specialist in the center's Business Management Office, provided the group information about the co-op and internship programs at Huntsville Center.

The students said they learned a lot during the mentoring activities. It will help them gain a better understanding of what engineers do.

"I participated in the event because I think this is a great opportunity to speak with someone who is actually working in the engineering field," Michael Wallace, a freshman in the Changing Lanes program at Alabama A&M, said. "I can learn a lot from my mentor, Bryant Marshburn."

Marshburn said he thinks that taking the time to mentor a student is the best way for any engineer to inspire future engineers. He will do all he can to guide his student's decisions to expand his career opportunities as an engineer.

"I like mentoring a student because when I look back on the professors and career counselors that guided me, I realize that they helped me make the decisions that developed my career opportunities," Marshburn said. "I feel that it is time for me to give back."

Ross said the engineers within his directorate have an enormous workload. It was difficult to find time to organize an activity to celebrate National Engineers Week, but he felt it was significant to acknowledge this event.

"It is very important that we take the time to recognize those within our profession during Engineers Week," Ross said. "I can't think of a better way to do this than have some of our best engineering professionals mentor future engineers. We'd like to do this more often."