Engineering Division: Hard work results in significant achievements

Published Jan. 14, 2014

“It was a big year for execution,” said Laureen Borochaner, chief of Jacksonville District’s Engineering Division. “We already had plenty of work, and then took on a lot of additional, unplanned work besides. Much of that work was in-house design of complex major projects.”

Rehabilitation of Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD), which surrounds Lake Okeechobee, is designated as one of several national mega-projects. Engineering Division executed in-house plans and specifications for five HHD contracts worth $120 million. Also, work continued on one of the Corps’ most complex and challenging dam studies at HHD, which will potentially result in remediation of much of the structure.

Jacksonville District’s levee safety program is the third largest in the nation in terms of levee segments. Engineering Division issued 26 levee system inspection reports and completed and submitted for higher-level review 44 screening-level levee risk assessments.

Engineering Division completed in-house design for the Miller Pump Station, the last of three pump station projects at Picayune Strand. The $75 million contract was awarded in 2013.

“Engineering Division is a ‘can-do’ organization,” said Borochaner. “We developed 23 sets of in-house plans and specifications for coastal and navigation projects, contributing to awards of more than $400 million. Thirteen of these were unscheduled contracts that came to us late in the year, and our team worked long hours to get them done.”

The team’s work isn’t confined to projects in Jacksonville District’s area of responsibility. They have developed three proposals for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for work in Haiti, the largest of which is the Haiti Ports project. Engineering Division is partnering with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Miss. to plan a new port facility.

“Our significant experience in the design and construction of deep-draft harbors, combined with that of the ERDC experts, will provide USAID and the government of Haiti with the best technical expertise the Corps has available,” said Borochaner. “This project could also be a gateway to other projects to help the Haitian people recover from the devastating earthquake of 2010.”

At the forefront of coastal engineering, Jacksonville District also partnered with ERDC to develop a path forward for using remote sensing data to define “coastal resilience” and evaluate near-shore placement of dredged material for beach renourishment, a method that potentially has national application within the Regional Sediment management program.

“The depth and breadth of experience on our team means that we are often requested to support regional and national programs,” said Borochaner. “We are working with the experts in meteorology and ocean circulation modeling on the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, to determine future vulnerability of the north Atlantic region to tropical storms and hurricanes. We are also one of the ‘go-to’ districts for technical support to the national Modeling, Mapping and Consequences (MMC) program. We support the program with hydraulic and hydrologic modeling, inundation mapping and application development. And we contributed to the Design Guidance Memorandum for Seismic Evaluation of Earthen Slopes.”

Jacksonville District is a leader in the Corps’ Value Engineering (VE) program, and was requested to lead several initiatives, including updating VE regulations and leading regional programmatic VE studies as well as studies for several districts. Engineering Division also supported the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Inter-basin Study Report to explore alternatives to reduce the risk of aquatic nuisance species migrating between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Scott Leech, technical specialist, supported Chicago District on efforts to minimize deformation on the McCook Reservoir and Bernard Siefert, geologist, worked with Sacramento District to support the American River jet grouting cutoff wall project.

Closer to home, easily one of the most successful and best attended Engineering Career Days Corps-wide attracted more than 120 high school students, parents and teachers from nine northeast Florida schools February 22. The 10th annual competition promoted science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and taught students about restoration of the Everglades. The day-long event was co-sponsored by Jacksonville District and the Society of American Engineers (SAME) Jacksonville Post during National Engineers Week. The event offered area high school students the opportunity to talk to engineering and science-related companies, and receive information from state universities about educational opportunities and curriculum.

Civil engineer Viktoria Bogina, E.I.T. was one of the Corps’ nominees for this year’s New Faces of Engineering Program, sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation, a coalition of engineering societies, major corporations and government agencies that recognize young engineers who have shown outstanding abilities and leadership. Bogina’s nomination was based on her contributions to the success of the district’s MMC team.  

“Despite our many challenges in 2013, the Engineering Division team excelled. They maintained their positive, ‘can-do’ attitude, produced the highest quality work and completed it on schedule,” said Borochaner.