Women’s History Month – Persisting for our Nation

March is Women’s History Month, the time we set aside to honor the many contributions that women have made to our Nation.  The theme of the 2018 Women’s History Month is “NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

All of you probably know (or maybe are) a woman who has persisted. In the face of discrimination or what seemed to be insurmountable odds, these women have gone on to achieve remarkable things, or simply to open doors that expand opportunities for other women.   Their persistence has helped break down barriers, whether in the Army or as a civilian, in the arts, in science, and in life.

Women have played a role in the defense of our nation since its founding.   Deborah Sampson became the first American woman to serve in combat when she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Continental Army. “Camp followers,” primarily women who were just outside the   battlefield doing cooking and laundry and tending to the wounded, supported the troops during the Civil War. After the Battle of Bull Run, Clara Barton and Dorethea Dix organized a nursing corps to help care for the wounded soldiers.

Approximately 21,000 women served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War I. The Army established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942, which was changed to the Women’s Army Corps in 1943. More than 150,000 women served as WACs during World War Two. And “Rosie the Riveter” represented the approximately six million civilian women employed in war material manufacturing during that war.

Today, women make up a majority of the U.S. population at 50.8 percent. They earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all master’s degrees. Additionally, they earn 47 percent of all law degrees and 48 percent of all medical degrees.

About 43 percent of the Federal Government is comprised of women.  Serving in the Army’s Total Force is 174,000 of them.  Within USACE, we have approximately 10,000 women employees, representing about 30 percent of our workforce.  The lower percentage for USACE perhaps reflects the STEM nature of our work; women are still not as represented in STEM career fields.

Within USACE, Col. Debra M. Lewis, now retired, was in the first class of women to graduate from West Point in 1980 and later served as commander and district engineer of the Gulf Region Division’s Central District, where she was responsible for engineering and construction management support of deployed forces and Iraqi reconstruction in Baghdad and Al Anbar provinces, Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham became the first woman to be promoted to a general officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jan. 27, 2012, in the Corps’ Washington, D.C. headquarters. In September 2011, Burcham became the first woman selected to command a Corps of Engineers division when she took command of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division located in Cincinnati.  She retired in 2016.

It’s easy to forget that we are only a few generations removed from women obtaining the right to vote in the United States.  Yet with or without women’s suffrage, they have been side by side with men in building and sustaining our Nation. They have persisted.

Thank you, all Southwestern Division women, for what you do every day to support and lead our organization.

Paul E. Owen, P.E.
Brigadier General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Commander, Southwestern Division

Heavy Duty Crane in Action

Why would you weigh a 225 ton power generation rotor unless you really have a good reason? The answer, the exact weight is very important to the safety of everyone working at the Beaver Dam power house.

A team of technicians and engineers from across the Little Rock District set-up scales to weigh a 225-ton power house rotor at Beaver Dam. Photo by Julie Ann Massey.

The in-house bridge crane system at Beaver Dam has a maximum rated lifting capacity of 450,000 pounds. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineer guidelines, a crane is limited to two lifts in excess of the maximum rated lift capacity in a 12 month period. If the rotor and lifting beam weighed less than 450,000 pounds, the team in the Beaver Dam power house would be able to proceed with the rehabilitation of their bridge crane. The only problem…a mechanical drawing for the crane and beam stated the total weight at 455,000 pounds.

Team members closely monitor scale readouts during the rotor weighing process. Photo by Julie Ann Massey.

To guarantee safety, a team from across the Little Rock District was assembled to weigh the massive rotor. They placed four jacks within an 8 foot diameter around the erection bay pedestal to raise the rotor. This diameter keeps the load directly over the concrete column that was designed to support the tremendous weight. Scales were placed between the rotor and the jacks. The large bolts that attached the rotor to the pedestal were loosened. The rotor was picked up and weighed twice. The measured weight with the lift beam was 449,320 pounds, which is just under the crane’s rated capacity.

The team records the final weight – 449,320 pounds. That is just under the crane’s maximum rated lifting capacity of 225 tons. Photo by Julie Ann Massey.

Now that the team has an accurate measurement and the total weight is below 225 tons, the bridge crane rehab can proceed and the crane will provide years of safe and reliable service in the power house.

*  Photos and information provided by Julie Ann Massey, maintenance control specialist at Beaver Lake power house.