The S.A.M.E experience

Contributed Report @WeeklyCitizen

Tyler Broussard will start his senior year at St. Amant High School next month with a very clear focus for his future thanks to his experience at the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Engineering and Construction Camp. Broussard, an Honor student and football player, was chosen as one of 40 students nationwide to attend the weeklong camp in Vicksburg, Miss. that is sponsored by the Society of American Military Engineers. 

“I learned that engineers are the problem-solvers of the world,” said Broussard upon his return from the camp this Sunday.  The purpose of the camp is to allow students interested in pursuing a career in engineering to experience activities in the various fields of engineering, and to network with many professional engineers.  Nissan, Neel-Shaffer Engineering, Fordice Construction Co., Entergy, Mississippi State University’s CAVS and the US Army Corp of Engineer’s Research and Development Center are just a few of the prominent sponsors and presenters for this prestigious camp. 

Upon arrival, the 40 campers are divided into four teams-red, white, blue and green. The teams compete in engineering and construction challenges on a non-stop pace.  Although the hands-on activities are fun and engaging for campers, the challenges also expose the campers to invaluable skills and knowledge that are utilized in public and private sectors of engineering. 

One of the camper’s first challenges was to use mathematical computations to proportion strong yet cost efficient concrete at the ERDC.  Broussard and his Green team developed their mixture which was the strongest, but most expensive. Broussard continued to learn about concrete production, finishing, and the responsibilities of a general contractor at Fordice Construction.

At the CAVS Center (MSU’s Bagley School of Engineering), campers were introduced to the world of computer modeling with Flexsim, a 3D simulation software that allowed campers to design roller coasters. Broussard’s team won their first challenge by designing and building effective catapults.   This competition was Broussard’s first step into robotics, which was rewarded by a behind-the-scenes tour of the assembly line at the Nissan Manufacturing Plant in Canton. 

Neel-Shaffer, a civil engineering solutions company, campers were introduced to even more essential engineering software systems such as AutoCAD and GIS. Broussard and his team used computer modeling techniques and GPS surveying to solve traffic and transportation problems. Campers were also taught to calculate bridge elasticity and corrosion.

At the Corp of Engineers’ Information Technology Laboratory, Broussard and his team won another challenge for their computer design of a bridge. They continued to learn about more engineering model software such as BIM, and then they travelled to Entergy to learn more about electrical engineering.

Not all of the activities were on land. Broussard and the campers were treated to lessons with a Blackhawk helicopter and a trip down the Mississippi River on the M/V William James.  While on the river, Broussard’s team worked to construct gearboxes (another winning challenge) and learned some of the mechanics of river engineering. Campers got their feet wet (literally!) when they were given tasks of soil sampling and classification.  Broussard and his group designed and built structures to prevent soil erosion. 

In between these challenges, campers were treated to enjoyable activities such as touring Vicksburg National Military Park, swimming at the Knights of Columbus, and bowling.  Camp organizer Henry Dulaney also planned a Mardi Gras party and delicious meals throughout the week. Broussard and the rest of the campers were truly treated in first-class style.

After the camp, Broussard is even more dedicated to becoming an engineer. 

“I plan to study mechanical engineering because I like the Nissan assembly line and putting things together, but now I see all of the ways engineers solve problems, like managing transportation problems or rebuilding war-torn towns in Iraq.  Mr. Jenkins helped rebuild the levees when they broke during Hurricane Katrina.  Engineers fix any problem.” 

David Jenkins, the camp’s director, was not the only engineer sharing his experiences. The camp featured many volunteer engineers as councilors and tour guides through the engineering and construction challenges during the week.  These engineers, along with the campers who travelled from as far away as New Jersey and Hawaii, form a network of engineer resources that will continue to help and inspire Broussard as he continues his education next year at LSU.