U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



2nd Joint Federal Interagency Conference, Las Vegas, NV, June 27 - July 1, 2010


River engineering is one of the core competencies of the Army Corps of Engineers. In fact, the Corps has traditionally been the leader among federal agencies in this area, having both developed the specialty area and literally having “written the book” in delivering guidance and tools used by others. However, the Corps’ superior performance is based in large part on the institutional knowledge of experienced river engineers, many of whom are near retirement age. This underlines the need to act quickly to implement an innovative technical transfer process to develop this core competency in younger USACE staff. In particular, the comprehensive systems approach used in river engineering must be thoroughly documented and disseminated throughout our organization. Several factors make this of paramount importance. First, as previously stated, many experienced engineers are nearing retirement. Second, this rapidly approaching exit of expertise does not allow for a slow and gradual knowledge transfer, but requires quick and innovative action. Third, the comprehensive systems approach used by river engineers is critical to ensuring the success of multi-disciplinary projects such as ecosystem restoration and watershed management projects. An accurate understanding of water and sediment process, and river channel changes, is fundamental to the success of most Corps civil works projects. There is a need for innovative technology transfer of river engineering expertise to support the comprehensive systems approach endorsed by Corps leadership. To respond to the above concerns, a work effort has been initiated under the Corps Actions for Change, Theme 1 (Knowledge Transfer) to perform an initial evaluation of river engineering discipline within the Corps. The observations and recommendations in this paper derive from a workshop held in 2009 to discuss the status of river engineering capability within the Army Corps of Engineers.