News Stories

Wilmington District Observes National Engineers Week

Published March 6, 2018

Every year across the country, a designated week in mid-February is celebrated as National Engineers Week. This observance was founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers to highlight the engineering all around us. It is celebrated the week surrounding the birthday of President George Washington who is often touted as the Nation’s first engineer.

   Celebrating National Engineers Week provides an opportunity to recognize achievements in the engineering profession, and improve external understanding of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ contributions to the Nation through engineering. In addition, it helps promote professional development of engineers and encourages children and young adults who have aptitudes for math and science to pursue a potential career in engineering. 

USACE is a globally-recognized leader in military and civil engineering and science. There are some 90,000 Army, National Guard, Army Reserve, and USACE Engineer Soldiers and 34,000 Civilians standing ready to meet the challenge. In Fiscal Year 17, USACE’s total obligations were $25.4 billion, making it equivalent to #112 on the Fortune 500 list.

Beyond providing a solution on time, within budget, and at the expected quality, engineers have the courage to serve on diverse teams to enable solutions deemed best by the society they serve,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Michael Wehr.

Wehr graduated from the University of Santa Clara in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas. He recalled a strong role model who encouraged him to follow in his footsteps.

“My grandfather, John H. Peaslee, was a civil engineer in Sacramento, California. While I was in grade school he taught me my first drafting lesson, then proceeded to give me his drafting set. He believed I could become an engineer if I really wanted to. This was a big vote of confidence, and I relied upon it heavily through some difficult studies. And in high school, my oldest sister in Seattle took me to visit the Ballard Locks and recommended I learn about the Corps of Engineers.”

Wilmington District engineers have a large variety of jobs either in civil works or military construction. They design and manage Storm Risk Reduction Projects at Wrightsville, Kure, Carolina and Ocean Isle Beaches, manage the construction of state-of-the-art facilities for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) at Fort Bragg, and manage water levels and water flow at the District’s five dams and reservoirs in North Carolina and southern Virginia. They all have something in common; they knew at an early age that they were good at or enjoyed mathematics and science, and they liked to solve problems.

Anthony Byrd of the Wilmington District’s USASOC Resident Engineer Office at Fort Bragg graduated in 2009 from North Carolina State University with a degree in civil engineering. He knew when he was young that he enjoyed math, but it wasn’t until later that he chose engineering as a profession.

I’ve always liked designing and engineering construction,” said Byrd. “I really didn’t know that I was interested in engineering until I was probably a freshman in college. I went to a community college for two years, and in that time I met some engineering students who told me what they did and I found that interesting.”

Wilmarie Pagan received her electrical engineering degree from Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico in San Juan.She also enjoyed math, solving problems and she had a strong desire to help people. Her biggest advocate, who encouraged her to take hard classes in upper level math and science, was right at home.

“My father always encouraged me to study engineering because he always saw me trying to find solutions to problems, and looking for innovations and improvements to make things better,” said Pagan. “I became an engineer because I love math, and I also had a heart willing to help people. I love to see improvements by everything that I do, which I think is one of the reasons why I decided to be an engineer. Every time I had math or engineering problems I always liked to resolve them even when I did not have the answers. I always wanted to know why and how I could solve it.”

San Diego State University graduate and civil engineer Hadrian-Lyle Leyco grew up in a Navy family. At around age five, he realized that he had an aptitude for math due to his interest in numbers. Addition and subtraction was regarded as "fun" during that time. At around age seven, he discovered a fascination for science, mainly due to the amount of school field trips.

“Engineering came to be an interest once I knew the details of particular programs,” explained Leyco. “What mainly interested me was aerospace and robotics. Growing up in a Navy family, I came to see many F-18 airplanes while running around the decks on aircraft carriers. How they flew and what made them tick is what set in stone my interest for aerospace. Robotics came into the picture due to an afterschool program in high school that taught students the basics of robotics and eventually how to build your own in a competitive environment.”

During National Engineers Week, parents, guardians and teachers are encouraged to mentor pupils or students who show aptitudes for math and science toward the world of engineering. Byrd, who has a young daughter, has noticed that she loves math just like he did when he was her age and he plans to encourage her to take upper level math and science classes as she gets older.

“I help her with her math and I can tell that she’s very good at it because she grasps what I’m explaining to her very quickly,” said Byrd. “It's too early to tell what she's interested in, but it's possible that I might tell her what I do as an engineer to see if she'll be interested.”

If you’d like to learn more about engineering and possible careers in the various types of engineering, visit