Engineering – The Citadel Today Thu, 18 Jun 2020 14:16:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Engineering – The Citadel Today 32 32 144096890 Engineering a creative way to hold “hands-on” labs — online Thu, 18 Jun 2020 14:16:07 +0000 This interactive, virtual lab is currently being offered to evening students currently enrolled in a summer session of a essential engineering course.]]>

Photo: Olga Zeller, the laboratory technician for The Citadel School of Engineering, works with Dr. Simon Ghanat’s students during a materials lab held via Zoom

There are perks — but also a lot of challenges — that come with virtual learning. There are even more challenges when it comes to finding a way to handle hands-on learning, when all the hands are made of pixels in a computer screen.

But that’s where Citadel engineering professor Simon Ghanat, Ph.D., and the School of Engineering got a chance to show off a creative ability to overcome challenges, and to bring virtual learning directly to the students.

Instead of pre-recording the lab experience, or attempting to hold hypothetical experiments, Ghanat and the school decided to hold an essential Engineering lab via Zoom, with one technician working alone in the lab, going through the experiments — live — for the students.

“Labs are vital to putting what cadets and students learn in their coursework into action, especially in engineering and science programs so they can see the applications of what they are studying,” said Ron Welch, Ph.D., P.E., dean of The Citadel School of Engineering. “With the leadership of Dr. Simon Ghanat and laboratory technician, Olga Zeller, we hope to develop a prototype, of sorts, for labs requiring specific equipment to still be available to those who need to learn remotely due to COVID-19, or other circumstances.”

This interactive, virtual lab is currently being offered to evening students currently enrolled in the summer session of the civil engineering course, “Mechanics of Materials.”

The course is essential to cadets and students studying mechanical, civil and construction engineering — operating as a foundation for the more advanced classes that come after. It introduces cadets and students to the practice of testing machines and equipment, as well as help them learn about the properties of engineering materials, as determined by results of tests in compression, tension, bending, torsion and more.

The unique idea first came to Dr. Ghanat during the emergency spring semester transition to online learning.

“I did demos and provided data for the students to analyze — but I noticed something was missing,” said Ghanat. “Students were not able to engage with each other, with a lab tech or me — which led me to the thought process of working with Olga, our lab tech, to perform experiments remotely in the summer course. By doing the labs in this format, students are able to share data and photos, and analyze data remotely — which was not possible in the Zoom-only format.”

It’s the kind of first-hand experience and learning that can’t be replicated without live demonstrations. And it’s clear how well the new methodology is working.

“It’s better than just seeing numbers,” said Olga Zeller, the lab technician with the School of Engineering. “Students can communicate between themselves, while also seeing the lab happening at the same time, with a professor talking in real time. It gives them a chance to see how it’s actually working, as well as a better memory and understanding of the material.”

Ghanat is currently using the new lab format for two groups, comprised of about 12 students each. Not only do the smaller class sizes give the students a more individualized, personal experience — it also shines a light on the educators’ dedication to teaching the next generation of engineers.

“Our faculty and staff’s passion for creating effective learning environments, coupled with students’ enthusiasm for their engineering education, works effectively through any medium,” said William J. Davis, Ph.D., P.E., head of the Civil & Environmental department.

For more information about The Citadel School of Engineering, please visit the School of Engineering webpage, or call (843) 953-6499.

Citadel engineers in high demand around SC and the nation Mon, 18 May 2020 20:56:53 +0000 There are distinct advantages for those graduating from one of the five oldest engineering programs in America, and one that is consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally. By graduation]]>

There are distinct advantages for those graduating from one of the five oldest engineering programs in America, and one that is consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally. By graduation each May, 85% of The Citadel School of Engineering students are employed, with 99 percent employed within two months of graduation.

“The combination of a highly relevant engineering curriculum combined with four years of required leadership training makes a Citadel educated engineer a highly desired addition to many teams,” said Col. Ron Welch, USA (Ret), Ph.D., PE. and dean for The Citadel School of Engineering. “The Class of 2020 is no exception and finished with outstanding results.”

The breakout of 2020 graduates from the five Bachelor of Science degree programs and the four Master of Science programs is as follows:

South Carolina Corp of Cadets Bachelor of Science

  • Mechanical Engineering: 66
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: 31
  • Electrical Engineering: 15
  • Construction Engineering: 9

Degree Transfer Undergraduate Programs (non-cadet)

  • Mechanical Engineering: 11
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: 11
  • Electrical Engineering: 9

Master of Science Programs

  • Project Management: 20
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: 2
  • Electrical Engineering: 2

Where are they working?

Here is a look at what some members of The Citadel School of Engineering Class of 2020 shared about their next steps and about their Citadel experience.

Christian Brackett

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Campobello, South Carolina
Destination: Lockheed Martin, Greenville, South Carolina

“The Citadel makes you become the kind of person everyone wants to be. You become reliable and honorable.”

John Croft

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: HITT Contracting for HITT Future’s Program as a project engineer based out of Falls Church, Virginia.

“The Citadel will mold you into the man or woman that you will want to become and set you up for your future. The value of the ring goes beyond that of any other college.”

Second Lt. Preston Dawes, USA

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Milton, Georgia
Destination: W.M. Jordan Company in Wilmington, North Carolina

“I got a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship my senior year of high school which solidified my choice to go to The Citadel to make myself the best leader possible.”

Second Lt. William Durnan

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Destination: U.S. Army

“The Citadel provides a realistic experience of life. You learn to deal with difficult people and situations, the kind that you cannot back out of. It teaches you to remain humble always and understand the power of being a leader. For those that choose to pursue a leadership position in the Corps, you’ll know the challenge of juggling school, the duties of your position, physical exercise, extracurricular activities, and a social life. Ultimately you learn sacrifice, you can’t do everything or be everywhere and applying yourself in one place means you won’t be giving all your effort somewhere else. The Citadel will force you to prioritize and for many it will be a gut check but will likely make you a more mature person upon graduation.”

Ensign Ethan Eich

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Simpsonville, South Carolina
Destination: United States Navy

“The Citadel challenges every many and woman to be something more than just an individual.”

Second Lt. Jon-Scot Gilstrap, USAF

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: York, South Carolina
Destination: Working as an engineer in the U.S. Air Force, Join Base Charleston

“The Citadel’s attention to detail really develops you and teaches you how to prioritize time. Going forward, I hope to make a lasting impact on those around me, to do my job to the best of my ability and to make myself available to anyone who needs help. Also, I hope to keep the friendships which I made here at The Citadel for life.”

Nicholas Harington

Degree: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Conway, South Carolina
Destination: Mead and Hunt working as an aviation civil engineer planning and designing airports

“I really liked the small size of The Citadel and the class sizes.”

Second Lt. Dennis McCann

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Long Island, New York
Destination: Civil engineer at Naval Information Warfare Center; U.S. Army Reserves

“The best reasons to attend The Citadel are the sense of community, the friendships and the connections.”

Thomas Murray

Degree: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Working as a civil designer for Dennis Corporation in Columbia, South Carolina

“At The Citadel you will make friends that will last a lifetime. Also, you will learn what it takes to develop yourself into a professional in your chosen occupation.”

Zacarias Neu

Degree: Construction Engineering
Hometown: Smyrna, Georgia
Destination: Project engineer with Whiting-Turner Contracting Company in the Charleston operation

“I will be working my way up to become a project manager on constructions sites. To me, the best reason to attend The Citadel is the lifelong family you gain.”

Gabriel Ramos

Degree: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
Destination: SAIC, Charleston

“The small class sizes give students access to a highly professional and knowledgeable staff. The professors’ backgrounds — which includes career military officers, industry executives, researchers, and academics — provided insight into my many options after graduation. As a bonus, The Citadel is in Charleston and you can’t beat that.”

Samuel Santiago

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Powell Butte, Oregon
Destination: United States Coast Guard

Dawn Wells, The Citadel Graduate College

Degree: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Mead and Hunt working as a transportation engineer with a focus on drainages design.

“I love The Citadel’s small class sizes, great professors, and the excellent, well-rounded curriculum.”

Master of Science in Project Management Graduates

Professional project managers work in almost every industry and work as leaders who plan and execute projects and are key contributors to the success of that venture. The Citadel’s Project Management Program, operated by the School of Engineering, is accredited by the world’s leading specialized accrediting body for project management programs, Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs.

Working professionals from many job sectors study project management.

“I will continue my work for the Naval Information Warfare Center as a security specialist, working my way up the ranks of leadership,” said Michael Popovich, The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2020. “My duties include deployment of a physical enclave into a cloud environment and maintaining management, operational, and technical security controls to protect critical medical health information for US service members.”

Popovich has a son who is a member of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, which is one of the reasons he considered The Citadel for his master’s degree.

“My hope is to build a meaningful family legacy rich in tradition. My younger brother graduated from the Corps of Cadets in 2008 and my oldest son is currently part of the 2022 class. I have two other boys and I intend for them to both attend The Citadel in the future. My dream is for the family table to be full of Citadel rings during future holidays.”

The full list of the college’s new Master of Science in Project Management 2020 graduates is as follows:

  • Christina Soyden Arnold
  • John Zachary Burchfield
  • Jay Baxter Caldwell III
  • Daniel Alexander Curlee
  • Stephen Pablo Fernandez de Bobadilla
  • Martin James Fosberry III
  • Kara Marie Klein
  • Mary Frances Mace
  • Jeremy Stephen Mackey
  • Patrick Dennis Magnum, Jr.
  • Sara Moeller Massey
  • Scott Owens
  • Matthew Kellard Paiva
  • Brian Benjamin Parker
  • Benjamin Franklin Parmenter II
  • Michael Jacob Popovich
  • Gabriel Omar Ramos
  • Thomas Adam Schaefer
  • John Lucas Semsar
  • Devon Lambert Wall

To learn more about The Citadel School of Engineering, please visit this website.

Engineering cadets win $10,000 for ‘wall-climbing’ robot Sat, 25 Apr 2020 22:57:21 +0000 Take a drone, a remote-controlled car, five senior mechanical engineering cadets — put them together — and what do you get?A $10-thousand-winning idea.]]>

Take a drone, a remote-controlled car, five senior mechanical engineering cadets — put them together — and what do you get?

A $10-thousand-winning idea.

Team “Wall Dynamic Inspection System” is the winner of the Baker Business Bowl VI (BBB). The team is working to construct a robot that allows bridge inspectors to do their jobs easier and without affecting traffic.

Prototype of Wall Dynamic Inspection System

“We wanted to solve a common problem we observed. We were frustrated with heavy traffic caused by bridge inspections, so we wanted to find a way to solve that problem,” said Cadet Rafael Gonzalez, one of the team’s presenters. “What we found was that the problem was worse than we imagined; there is a huge number of structurally deficient bridges across America that need inspection.”

That’s where Wall Dynamic Inspection System comes in. The robot drives up and down bridges, using drone-like fans to push itself against walls and defy gravity.

“We hope that by reducing the high cost, time, and skill level associated with bridge inspections, we can streamline the inspection process, improve public safety, and do something about inconvenient bridge traffic,” Gonzalez continued.

The team is currently working on the first prototype for the Wall Dynamic Inspection System.

“The team will pursue our second prototype to improve upon this original design,” said Cadet Jonathan Urbanic, project manager and presenter. “Once this is complete, the team will finalize this product and prepare to sell our Wall Dynamic Inspection System to contractors and DOT personnel so that bridge inspections and public safety may be improved.”

Cadet Jonathan Urbanic with the prototype Wall Dynamic Inspection System

This year the competition was held via Zoom, due to the campus closure.

Each of the five final teams had 30 minutes to present their business ideas, and to answer questions from the judges.

Team Wall Dynamic Inspection System includes:

  • Jonathan Urbanic
  • Zachary Crosby
  • Rafael Gonzalez
  • Trace Guy
  • Connor Munday

“We are very thankful to the Baker Bulldog Business Bowl and the judges that participated for this opportunity,” said Urbanic. “The team worked extreme hours for the last year to make this happen, and we are very proud to finish the year well.”

Team Rewind Filters came in second place, earning $5,000 for their business. The company’s goal is to create a machine that cleans and repurposes used water filters so that they can be reused.

The Baker Business Bowl is a program aimed at helping budding entrepreneurs who have an idea for a new product or service, and the desire to turn that idea into a business. It’s open to cadets, evening undergraduate students, and graduate students.

Contestants participate in teams and compete in three rounds. The final five teams are given the opportunity to attend a series of educational workshops on how to develop their full business plan.

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Alumnus president flies mechanical engineering cadets to world-leading company, makes offers to three Tue, 21 Apr 2020 21:13:04 +0000 Not long before the pandemic became a daily actuality, four seniors majoring in mechanical engineering enjoyed an experience they won’t likely forget.]]>

Cadets and mechanical engineering head, Dr. Robert Rabb, on a private plane bound for Jonesboro, Arkansas, Feb. 24, 2020

Not long before the pandemic became a daily actuality, three seniors and one junior, majoring in mechanical engineering, enjoyed an experience they won’t likely forget.

It was the president of Hytrol, David Peacock, that made it happen. Hytrol is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of material handling conveyer systems for a variety of industries, with Amazon as one of its largest customers. Not surprisingly, Peacock is a Citadel alumnus, Class of 1984. Peacock is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served more than 12 years. 

“Mr. Peacock is very passionate about his alma mater and believes strongly in the quality of students The Citadel produces,” explained Natalie Shew, director of academic partnerships for Hytrol. “For this reason, he asked me to reach out to the Mechanical Engineering Department head, Dr. Robert Rabb, to set up a visit. We flew up to Charleston and met with Dr. Rabb, some cadets and the Dean of Engineering. We flew the cadets back to Hytrol the next day on our company jet.”

Cadets Alex Delorme, Ryan Huntington, David “Evan” McDonald and Miles Pappas found themselves on the jet and prepping for interviews.

Alex Delorme, David “Evan” McDonald, Ryan Huntington, Miles Pappas and Robert Rabb, Ph.D.

“We could hardly believe it. It was an incredible and motivating opportunity for us, and we met some great people,” Huntington said following the trip.

Shew said the cadets spent the day learning about what Hytrol designs and manufactures.

“They met with various leaders and had time to ask them questions about the business, engineering positions and internships at Hytrol. We also took them on a tour of Jonesboro and the Arkansas State University campus so that they could get a feel for life in Northeast Arkansas,” Shew said.

Several days after the trip, Huntington received and accepted a job offer from Hytrol. He begins working with Hytrol after graduation, joining the 140 engineers employed there. 

“Like The Citadel, Hytrol has values that everyone lives by and they all genuinely care about each other. I will be working as a design engineer thanks to the generosity of Mr. Peacock. I look forward to working with the company and growing as an engineer and as a person.”

David Peacock, Class of 1984 president of Hytrol

McDonald also received a job offer but had already accepted an engineering position elsewhere, thus had to decline. Delorme accepted an internship proposal.

“This exciting new partnership with Hytrol is not only a testament to the quality of engineers produced by The Citadel School of Engineering, it reflects the kind of commitment and generosity for which the college’s alumni network is known and respected,” Rabb said.

Shew says she will be working with Rabb and The Citadel Career Center on an ongoing basis to recruit mechanical engineering cadets to support Hytrol’s needs.

“It is a very beneficial dialogue when we hear from alumni like David Peacock, who are industry leaders regarding current needs in the workforce. This allows The Citadel Career Center team to be more nimble to the market to meet those demands.  We very much appreciate and look forward to continuing this productive relationship with Mr. Peacock and Hytrol,” said Page Tisdale, director of The Citadel Career Center.

For more information about The Citadel School of Engineering, one of the oldest in America and a 
top-25 nationally ranked program, visit this webpage.

Citadel engineering student, Boeing employee, making devices to improve face mask comfort and fit Thu, 16 Apr 2020 10:00:16 +0000 Marchant is using open source CAD files from the internet to produce the 3D print mask extenders and clips for medical personnel and front-line workers.]]>

By day, Ricky Marchant works for Boeing.

“I’m currently able to perform my work from home, which I’ve been doing since late March. I am very blessed that I am able to continue working for Boeing,” Marchant said in an emailed interview.

In the evenings, Marchant is working on a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering through The Citadel Graduate College. “I miss coming to campus for my evening classes but am thankful I can keep studying online. I hope to graduate in a few weeks.”

Between work and homework, Marchant is doing something else to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is making plastic clips and extenders for facemasks. “The clips make medical facemasks more comfortable to wear, and it makes homemade facemasks fit and stay in place a bit better.”

Marchant is using open source CAD files from the internet to produce the 3D print mask extenders and clips for medical personnel and front-line workers.

“I’ve donated more than 200 to places including Summerville Medical Center and grocery store workers and several small medical facilities. I am happy to make and donate more for our Lowcountry front-line workers.”

Marchant is an Electrical Installation Designer for the 787.  When he graduates, he will be reclassified as an Electrical Installation Design Engineer.

“These clips are one small way I can use my time in a way that will perhaps help some of those who have to be out there working to help keep the rest of us safe and supplied.”

Grocery store or medical businesses and workers interested in submitting a request for the extenders and clips can email Marchant at

SC cadet students build robot hands to teach American Sign Language Sat, 04 Apr 2020 18:20:27 +0000 The goal is to build a pair of hands to communicate as a teaching aid and potentially as a human substitute when an ASL translator can’t be brought in.]]>

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Bo Peterson

Mohamed Baghdady leans to the microphone and says the word “one.” A lone mechanical finger on the table responds with a curl, then rises upright.

At another table in The Citadel engineering lab, a complete robotic hand spells the sign language letters for “c-a-t” from instructions typed on a computer. The movement is driven by motors and fishing line.

Baghdady, a cadet, is building a pair of hands to communicate as a teaching aid and potentially as a human substitute when an American Sign Language translator can’t be brought in.

The hands would work with voice recognition software, replicating the spelling and gestures human hands use to communicate with someone who is deaf.

The work in professor Robert Rabb’s class could lead to another breakthrough in the uses of robotic limbs — a world of prosthetics and  “microbots” diagnosing illnesses inside the body.

But maybe the coolest feature of the hands is you could build them at home. The class final product won’t be a pair of hands; it’ll be an online workshop on the website Instructables’ how-to guide.  

Paul Vargas works with classmates on a robotic hand that they are trying to teach American Sign Language at The Citadel on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (Courtesy: Lauren Petracca, The Post and Courier)

“Even a middle-schooler could build this project,” said cadet Paul Vargas. “It’s not only mobile, it’s cheaper to use, cheaper to produce than most robotics, and it fills a need.”

There are a few obstacles to overcome.

The first control board the cadets built blew up on them: It needed a shield. The vocal-recognition computer program struggles with words that begin or end with a vowel.

The class is now trying to flex the hand wrists — a necessary component to communicating in sign. In early prototypes, moving the hand took so much electricity it left the finger joints unable to return upright, said cadet Zachery Danis.

But the biggest hurdle is a little-realized subtlety in ASL itself.

The “grammar” of sign language includes physical or facial expressions of the interpreter, said Jason Hurdich, an ASL interpreter who gained fame when he interpreted for Gov. Nikki Haley in 2016 as she pleaded for residents to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew.

Hurdich, now a Clemson University professor teaching sign language, commented from his experience and not as a professor, he said.

Students at The Citadel work on a robotic hand that they are trying to teach American Sign Language on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (Courtesy: Lauren Petracca, The Post and Courier)

When signing, the face tells the intention instead of the hands. For example, a question that requires a yes or no answer is communicated by facial expression.

“Imagine speaking English with no inflection,” Hurdich said.

That’s the limit of communicating simply with hands.

“Robotic hands are cool. The technology is great. But there are gaps,” he said.

Rabb’s students realize this. The work won’t be completed by this class alone. They hope research continued by classes after them eventually comes up with a technical substitute for expression. But just getting the hands to work well enough to teach basics would be valuable.

Rabb came up with the idea while attending his daughter’s graduation and watching an ASL interpreter.

“How do people out in remote areas get this?” he asked himself.

The answer is, a lot of them don’t.

ASL is the third most often used language in the United States, Hurdich said. But there are not enough instructors, much less interpreters.

So that means The Citadel group is on to something. 

“I’d be concerned about grammar,” he said. “But I’m definitely curious about the hands.”

Women’s History Month: meet several of the many outstanding women at The Citadel Wed, 25 Mar 2020 18:20:31 +0000 In celebration of Women's History Month 2020, the college would like to introduce you to a few of our many outstanding women.]]>

Photo above: Cadet Julianna DeSalle with parents, Janet and John, during her Ring Ceremony, 2019

Every March is designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation. Institutions and organizations around America, including The Citadel, participate in and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history and in society today.

Some of the ways the college has celebrated in the past included featuring alumnae stories, reviewing newsworthy contributions by Citadel women, by studying principled leaders and by hosting distinguished guests.

In March 2020, the college would like to introduce you to more outstanding cadets and students.

Cadet Ruby Bolden, Regimental Public Affairs NCO

Cadet Ruby Bolden serves as the Regimental Public Affairs non-commissioned officer who assists with VIP campus tours, media relations and communications at The Citadel. Bolden will rise to the position of Regimental Public Affair Officer for the 2020-21 academic year.

Bolden is an Exercise Science major from Grovetown, Georgia. She is a three year Army contract cadet who anticipates graduating in May 2021 and accepting a commission into the Army.

Q. Why did you select The Citadel?

A. It began when my mom’s boss gave me a brochure about this institution. I saw the uniforms and thought that it would be a great experience for me. From there, I watched videos online and the more I watched, the more I wanted to attend. 

Read Bolden’s full article here.

Meet Cadet Julianna DeSalle, electrical engineer standout; future mining industry leader

Cadet Julianna DeSalle is an Electrical Engineering major from Navarre, Florida. The head of her department recommended her as one of the standout future leaders in her field.

Q. Why did you select The Citadel?

A. I selected The Citadel because of the discipline and high standards required of a cadet. Both of my parents were active duty Air Force service people and are now retired so I grew up being held to a high standard. 

Q. What compelled you to become an electrical engineer?

A. I chose to study engineering because I have always been good with math and science and I also really enjoy being hands on with the work that I do. I chose Electrical Engineering because the discipline is so diverse I can do whatever I want to do while having a firm educational background. 

Read DeSalle’s full article here.

Meet Cadet Hannah Jalbert, Company Commander, Oscar

Cadet Hannah Jalbert attends The Citadel as an Army scholarship student. She is majoring in Intelligence and Security Studies, one of the most in-demand programs on campus. She also serves the South Carolina Corps of Cadets at the commander of Oscar company.

Jalbert is originally from North Haven, Connecticut. Her parents now live in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

Jalbert graduates in May as a member of The Citadel Class of 2020. She will accept a commission to become an officer in the Army upon graduating.

Q. Why did you select The Citadel?

A. It was a sunny day in August when I first visited The Citadel. I stepped on the campus and fell in love. The rest was history. Within the month I told my parents I was going to attend The Citadel and pursue an Army contract.

Q. What is your major and what led you to select that area of study?

A. My major is Intelligence and Security Studies with a focus in Chinese Area Studies. I chose this major due to the career I planned to pursue in the Army, with the desire to work as a military intelligence officer. I have also been speaking Chinese for eight years so it was my two passions within one major – perfect!

Q. What do you love most about attending The Citadel?

A. I love The Citadel with all of my heart. I love seeing boys become men and girls become women. This place changed my life and am forever grateful.

Read Jalbert’s full article here.

Meet Cadet Lilly Layden, working to increase the number of women in military cyber operations

Cadet Lillian Layden being sworn in as USAF ROTC contract cadet

Cadet Lilly Layden is a junior, Dean’s List student from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. She is with her family there studying remotely during the campus closure forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Layden is a contract cadet with the U.S. Air Force ROTC and is working on a double major: Cyber Security and German. She anticipates graduating in 2021 and accepting a commission as an officer in the Air Force at that time.

Q. Why did you select The Citadel?

A. I decided to attend The Citadel set myself up for success with a planned career in the military. I hope to follow in my father’s footsteps as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces serving our country.

I have always been technologically driven and women are severely underrepresented in STEM roles. Only 2% of the world can code and only about 20% of that 2% are women. I am need in the realm of cyber security operations and I knew The Citadel could help get me there.

Q. What do you love most about attending The Citadel?

A. I love the structure of cadet life here. It makes me put my best foot forward and makes me take on so much more than I could have ever imagined I could. It keeps me focused, connected, and well rounded. I have a bright future because of it. I also love the bonds I make with people. I’ve made my best friends and made the best memories with people I love here. We can be so close knit.

Read Layden’s full article here.

Meet more outstanding Citadel women in our Our Mighty Citadel features here.

Women’s History Month: Meet Cadet Julianna DeSalle, electrical engineer standout; future mining industry leader Wed, 25 Mar 2020 18:12:37 +0000 Cadet Julianna DeSalle is an Electrical Engineering major from Navarre, Florida.]]>

Photo above: Cadet Julianna DeSalle with parents, Janet and John, during her Ring Ceremony.

Cadet Julianna DeSalle is an Electrical Engineering major from Navarre, Florida. She is a senior, and the head of her department recommended her as one of the standout, future leaders in her field.

Q. Why did you select The Citadel?

A. I selected The Citadel because of the discipline and high standards required of a cadet. Both of my parents were active duty Air Force service people and are now retired so I grew up being held to a high standard. 

Q. What compelled you to become an electrical engineer?

A. I chose to study engineering because I have always been good with math and science and I also really enjoy being hands on with the work that I do. I chose Electrical Engineering because the discipline is so diverse I can do whatever I want to do while having a firm educational background. 

Q. What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had through The Citadel?

Cadet Julianne DeSale on site during her engineering internship with a global mining company
Cadet Julianna DeSale on site during her engineering internship with a global mining company

A. It was definitely different and exciting interning with Freeport – McMoran, a mining company, for two summers. I had never even thought about mining until I was called for an interview. It was a great experience and has opened my eyes to just how vast my opportunities are in the workforce. 

Q. Your department head says you’ve received several job offers?

A. It is really rewarding. After graduation I plan to move to Bagdad, Arizona and start my career as a process automation engineer in the mining industry. 

Q. What else are you involved with on campus?

A. I am involved in many things on campus, but especially love playing with my friends on the women’s club rugby team at The Citadel.

Q. What would you to say to young women considering The Citadel?

A. My recommendation for young women considering The Citadel is come here to grow, come here to develop as a person, come here to become a better leader, follower, mentor, friend, daughter, person. Come here for a challenge and accept all challenges with open arms. 

Q. What is your top recommendation for young people considering your major?

A. My top recommendation for young people considering engineering as a major is don’t give up on what you want to do, it will get hard but you can make it through, just don’t quit. 

Julianna DeSalle, center/front, with The Citadel women’s club rugby team
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From alumnus to cadet: building a career in construction engineering Wed, 29 Jan 2020 20:00:42 +0000 construction project at The Citadelconstruction project at The CitadelAs The Citadel's first Construction Engineering majors prepare to graduate, an alumnus and senior cadet team up to guide future engineers.]]> construction project at The Citadelconstruction project at The Citadel

The first cadets to graduate with Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering degrees are preparing to transition from The Citadel to the professional world. Eight are scheduled to graduate in May.

In 2018, The Citadel School of Engineering expanded, adding a construction engineering major to its robust list of engineering degrees. Some existing members of the Corps moved into that major right away. Cadet James Jennings was one of them.

Jennings should have a smooth transition after his May graduation, going directly to one of the engineering firms that has offered him a job. Jennings completed internships with three engineering firms and worked as an employee for a fourth the summer before his senior year.

Rewind to 2003 when Matt Cartwright, P.E., graduated from The Citadel School of Engineering. The construction engineering program didn’t exist. His Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering led him to a successful 17 year career as an engineer/project manager with the nationwide firm, Freese and Nichols. Cartwright was promoted to construction manager in their North Carolina operations in 2019.

Jennings (JJ) and Cartwright (MC) teamed up via email for a Q & A session intended to help guide students considering a career in construction engineering with some advice from alumnus to cadet.

JJ: Hello Mr. Cartwright. I have enjoyed learning about your career, experience and influence in the Raleigh area and across the southeast, through your work with Freese and Nichols. I’m excited for the opportunity to ask you a few questions concerning how you got where you are today and what advice you have for those wishing to follow your path.

MC: James, thank you for allowing me to share a few lessons I have learned throughout my career. There are many more alumni out there who are more deserving of this opportunity, but I am grateful to be able to help in any way. I would like to preface my answers to your questions by stating I was not the best cadet or student, but I like to think I have had some great experiences along the way to make up the difference.

JJ: What activities during your time as a cadet influenced your career the most? 

MC: There are a lot of great opportunities at The Citadel that help direct cadets toward career goals. One for me was being able to attend professional conferences like the American Society of Civil Engineers Carolina Conference. I believe the thing that helped guide my career the most was an internship, though at the time it was not a requirement. Internships provide great opportunities to gain firsthand experience in different fields. I chose to complete an internship with a concrete construction company. During my internship, I was placed in the field as a concrete laborer and learned a plethora of information about concrete, mix designs and placement methods. It also allowed me to view a wide array of projects in various stages of construction and reinforced my interest in construction.

JJ: What leadership skills that were either developed or reinforced while at The Citadel have proven most valuable? 

MC: We learn so many skills and develop characteristics at The Citadel that are used not only in construction project management activities, but in life overall. A couple of the lessons I use consistently are pushing myself to learn continually, and conducting myself with integrity.

Continual learning: The Citadel gives you a strong educational foundation, but your education needs to continue long after graduation. We must continually learn over the course of our career to better serve our clients and our communities.

Integrity: Integrity, much like the sublimest word, duty, goes hand-in-hand with a successful career. Integrity is the foundation that develops relationships with clients, internal teams and the communities that we serve.

JJ: What excited you about working in construction project management as an engineer and what surprised you once you started working? What continues to ignite your passion as you go to work each day?

MC: The title, project manager, is elusive because it means different things to different people at different companies. As I interview new graduates and young construction managers and engineers, it seems that most want to be a project manager. When I ask what it means to them, most respond with a pause then say, “It means that I will manage projects.” I think most folks would agree that initially the most exciting aspect of being a project manager in construction engineering is being in charge and responsible, until you realize you are in charge and responsible for the success and failure of a project.

The biggest surprise — and what continues to drive me about what I do — is simply the people and the psychology of our work. The technical aspects of our jobs are pretty simple if you think about it: processing pay requests, processing change orders and interpreting drawings. Those duties have their challenges, but it’s the soft skills that make the difference. How you treat people, how you treat your team, how you get folks to engage when they would otherwise disengage. Those leadership skills can make the difference between a successful project and a failure.

JJ: What are some of the most important areas an aspiring construction project manager can focus on to be prepared for success upon graduation? What do you wish you had known in 2003?

Matt Cartwright, Citadel Class of 2003, overseeing on site for Frees and Nichols in Sanford, North Carolina.

MC: Undertake self-study, read and find a mentor. While a B.S. degree gives you a strong foundation from which to start, it is just the beginning. Taking the time to study every week about the activities that will be happening the following week will help advance your skill set. A construction manager is often faced with interacting with a project superintendent with 20+ years experience, and it is difficult to gather the support of your team if you are not prepared.

Reading outside of technical specifications can give you an advantage if you choose the proper material. Books such as First, Break all the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman, and Good to Great by Jim Collins are great reads that can help improve your communication skills.

Lastly, finding the right mentor can help propel your career. Life in general can be difficult to traverse, so why go it alone if there are people out there who have been along your path who can help guide and possibly give you a leg up? Take advantage of The Citadel School of Engineering mentor match program and build a relationship that will last beyond college.

JJ: Students who graduate from the new construction engineering program are eligible to sit for their Fundamentals in Engineering (F.E.), and subsequently, their Professional Engineer (P.E.) licenses. How have you used your P.E. license while working in construction services? 

MC: My path has been unorthodox, as I waited about 13 years to take my P.E. exam. I thought I would never need or use a P.E., which was true for 10 years. While construction services staff do not necessarily design projects, they sometimes act on the behalf of the engineers who do design the projects.

As construction managers, we must be prepared and bring a minimum level of experience and knowledge to fulfill our duties on the projects we are assigned. To me, having a P.E. does not make one a good engineer but it does carry the weight of the governing board that extends you the privilege of being a PE. I tend to agree with the great philosopher Colonel Dion Williams, “Don’t worry about the scores, just worry about the material.”

JJ: What three skills are most essential for the progression and advancement of a young assistant project manager (APM) aspiring to become project manager?

MC: Communication skills are the most crucial and the most difficult skills to learn and master. These are the skills engineer-leaders use in our day-to-day work and that can most strongly impact the outcome of projects.

Technical skills are often learned over the course of a career. Understanding the technical aspects of designs as well as the technical aspects of construction management will help you effectively manage projects. 

The third skill would be learning how to anticipate the needs of your clients. This will help advance your career. Getting the folks who need and use information before they need it is a valuable tool to have in your arsenal.

JJ: What aspect of your role in the construction project process do you find most rewarding? Which aspect can be the most challenging? 

MC: I feel the most rewarding aspect of my current job is really servant-leadership, exactly what all cadets at The Citadel are learning. I take pride in contributing to interesting projects that make the communities in which I live better. My jobs affect water storage and supply, wastewater supply, storm water and flooding. Such projects have a tremendous effect on the public’s quality of life. It’s rewarding to know I can assist in the successful completion of a project that has that kind of impact.

As for some of the most challenging aspects of our job — I’d go back to those soft skills again. The human element of interfacing with the client, engineers and the contractor can be cumbersome, but absolutely necessary.

JJ: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned working in construction since you graduated? 

MC: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

This quote is applicable to all stages of our work and industry, from completing site visit inspections to claims negotiation. The need to be prepared is one of my greatest lessons learned.

JJ: What is one thing that you thought would be extremely important while you were a cadet that turned out not to be?

MC: That’s a great question. There are many lessons that we learn through our studies, but the one that stands out the most to me is mistakes. In school we are judged on the amount of mistakes we make. Throughout your career you will make mistakes, however most will be judged upon the mistakes we do not learn from.

JJ: What is one decision you have made which impacted your career the most? 

MC: Work for an organization with values similar to your own. If the organization does not have the same high values, you may be asked, at some point, to adopt their values and compromise your own. I am fortunate enough to have found a home at Freese and Nichols, which has a long history of strong values and outstanding service.

Oh and one more thing, marry an engineer. Just kidding, we can’t all do that. But I married Kristen Cartwright, P.E. She specializes in water and wastewater master planning. She is an APM with Freese and Nichols. We just had our first child and we learn from each other every day.

The Citadel School of Engineering offers Bachelor of Science degree programs in:
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Computer Engineering (Fall 2020)
Construction Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

For more information about these programs, contact the Office of the Dean at (843) 953-6499 or email

Lowcountry media goes medieval in support of STEM education Mon, 27 Jan 2020 22:12:07 +0000 Carolina Park K-5 Trebuchet Team competing at Storm The Citadel 2019Carolina Park K-5 Trebuchet Team competing at Storm The Citadel 2019Local news personalities will build, and compete with, their own mini trebuchets to promote STEM education and the 10th anniversary of Storm The Citadel.]]> Carolina Park K-5 Trebuchet Team competing at Storm The Citadel 2019Carolina Park K-5 Trebuchet Team competing at Storm The Citadel 2019

Photo: Carolina Park K-5 hoplite trebuchet team competing at Storm The Citadel 2019

Local news personalities will build, and compete with, their own mini trebuchets

The Lowcountry’s TV stations — and especially their weather teams — have a long history of supporting STEM education in our communities.

On Friday, Jan. 31, news personalities from the local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates will continue this tradition at an event called “Media goes medieval and Storms The Citadel.”

The competitors will bring their hand-made trebuchets, or medieval-style catapults, to see who built the best one.

The meteorologists who will be competing for the first place spots are, alphabetically: David Dickson (WCBD, Count on 2), Stephanie Sine (WCSC, Live 5 News) and Sonya Stevens (WCIV, ABC News 4).

They will have three chances to take first place. An accuracy competition will test how well the meteorologists can control their trebuchet, and the distance competition will determine whose trebuchet can launch projectiles the furthest. There will also be a spirit award, given to the team with any combination of the best-decorated trebuchet, best team costumes, or overall spirit.

The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence provided the meteorologists with the same mini trebuchet kits for the competitors as are provided for K-5 students.

This media competition comes ahead of the tenth anniversary of Storm The Citadel — a hands-on engineering competition that includes water bottle rockets, bridge-building, robotics and trebuchets.

Storm The Citadel is sponsored by Google and The Citadel. The event is also free to schools; the materials, transportation and mentors are provided.

The Citadel’s STEM Center of Excellence hosts multiple, hands-on events every year to promote and engage students in STEM learning.

Storm The Citadel 2020 will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.