The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was established on June 16, 1775, by the Continental Congress to serve General George Washington. General Washington appointed a Chief Engineer, Colonel Richard Gridley, considered the founding father of the Corps, who was responsible for building the batteries above the city of Boston that played a large role in the British evacuation of that city. It was in 1802 that Thomas Jefferson formally organized an Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.
The Army Corps of Engineers Mission
Today the mission of the Army Corps of Engineers is to “provide vital public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen our Nation’s security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters.” The Engineers are responsible for planning, designing, and building flood protection systems, military facilities, and locks and dams and other structures necessary for water navigation and flood control. They have taken on such varied tasks as surveying the American West, and building the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Library of Congress, the Pentagon, Veterans Administration hospitals, missile sites, and NASA facilities. That also assisted in the completion of the Panama Canal. All Corps of Engineers projects are authorized by Congress.
Army Corps of Engineers Facts:
- The Corps’s motto is Essayons or “Let Us Try.”
- The Corps Castle is its insignia representing military fortification design.
- The current Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick.
- The USACE is the fifth largest electric supplier in the U.S., producing one fourth of the nation’s hydroelectric power.
- Corps of Engineers projects can be found in all fifty states.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: A Brief History
Read the history of the Corps. (Use the links to the left to navigate.)
Army Corps of Engineer Headgear
Like all military units, the Army Corps of Engineers has its own headgear.
Videos of some of the Corps of Engineers projects.
Hydroelectric Power: How It Works
Water Safety Tips
From the American Red Cross.
Tips for adults keeping children safe.
Swimming Safety Tips
Keeping kids safe when swimming at SafeKids.org.
An interactive look at a river and surrounding area before, during, and after the construction of a dam. (Because this is now archived, it is slow to respond, but it does work.)
Animated Lock Demonstration
How it works.
Now it’s your turn!
Construct an Aqueduct
Construct a Roman Aqueduct. From Nova.
Boating safety interactive for kids.
Dams From the Beginning by Robert B. Jansen
A fascinating look at man’s attempt to harness water.
The First Book of Water by Josephine Sterns Norling
Free eBook download.
Bob Hazard, Dam Builder by Carl Brandt
Free historical fiction eBook with a fair look at how dams were built in the early 1900s.
Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
From Lazy River to Deep Water
Students calculate volume and create a model lock to study how it works in this mini-unit at Iowa Public Television.
166-page water safety teacher’s guide from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covering swimming, boating and fishing, dams and rivers, and water rescue. Printables include an ABCs of water safety book, notebooking pages, and a printable game. Great summer resource!
Printables & Notebooking Pages
How a Lock and Dam System Works
Printable from TeachEngineering.org.
USACE Notebooking Pages
Simple notebooking pages for coypwork, narrations, or wrapping up.