VICKSBURG, Miss. -- Although Dr. Ceyda Polatel first heard about the Engineer Research and Development Center University (ERDC U) through a former U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) employee, it wasn’t until she received an email and advice from her professional colleague, ERDC researcher Dr. Chuck Downer that she applied for the program.
Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District Hydraulic Engineer is a participant in the 2020 ERDC U six-month session.
“I already had a working relationship with Dr. Downer, and he thought ERDC U would be a good opportunity for me to learn more about the ERDC and its research areas,” said Polatel, noting that Downer was a research hydraulic engineer with the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL).
“But it was an email from the Early Career Network of the USACE that prompted me to apply for the program,” she said. “It included an application form.”
ERDC U is sponsored by the ERDC Directorate of Human Capital and the Office of Research and Technology Transfer (ORTT) and pairs division and district selectees with ERDC subject matter experts to apply and implement technical solutions.
“Each participant serves as a member of the interdisciplinary research and development team reporting to lead project managers and/or direct program managers. The program’s missions are to transition technologies between ERDC and USACE, strengthening the technical knowledge base, and to provide developmental opportunities for USACE engineers and scientists, while working on real-world solutions,” said ERDC U Program Manager and ORTT Technology, Knowledge and Outreach Division Chief Tisa Webb.
For her project, Polatel is working on developing additional water structure operations in the Gridded Surface/Subsurface Hydrologic Analysis (GSSHA) model, which was invented by the ERDC to simulate surface water and groundwater hydrology, erosion and sediment transport.
CHL developers said that GSSHA uses a square-grid, constant grid-size representation of watershed topography and characteristics, similar to a digital elevation model representation. Relevant model parameters are assigned to the model grids using index maps, often derived from soils, land use/land cover, vegetation or other physiographic maps.
ERDC U Project for District’s Benefit
“I will work with the GSSHA model, develop a test case for verifying the developments and utilize the enhanced capability to demonstrate the utility of the new features,” Polatel said.
“A direct and immediate benefit from this program will be to learn more about GSSHA,” she added. “I also think that getting to know CHL researchers, and having an opportunity to demonstrate the hydrologic modeling needs and interests of the Jacksonville District will help improve the collaboration between ERDC and the organization.”
Polatel received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and her doctorate degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. She has been a member of the Jacksonville District team for the past four years, and works in the Hydrologic Modeling Section on development and review of hydrologic models and analysis of collected or simulated hydrologic data.
“Even though this sounds very specific, my day-to-day job requires a diverse range of interactions with multidisciplinary groups of professionals,” she said. “Due to the large size and importance of the hydrologic models Jacksonville District develops, understanding the needs of the stakeholders and the members of the project delivery teams is an essential part of my job.”
The four-day kickoff activities for the 2020 ERDC U session featured ERDC’s business research area briefings and tours of the four laboratories located on the 700-acre main campus in Vicksburg in March 2020.
“The most remarkable part of the kick-off week for me was to learn the diversity of the labs and research involved under ERDC umbrella,” Polatel said. “The staff coordinating the program were incredibly nice, helpful and engaged. The tour of the facilities and the briefings from the researchers made it a unique and invaluable experience.”
For more information on the ERDC University program, visit, https://wiki.erdc.dren.mil/ERDC_University.