U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (photo) A Texas Army National Guard Blackhawk black deposits a 6,000 pound-plus bag of sand and gravel on-target, September 2005 as work progresses to close the breach in the 17th Street Canal, New Orleans. (U.S. Army Corp of Engineers photo by Alan Dooley)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – civilians and soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. The Corps is the nation’s largest public engineering agency. Activities range from the design and construction of roads, bridges and industrial facilities for other federal, state and local agencies to the design and construction of residential housing on military installations. The Corps’ architects and engineers are developing “green building” technologies that use alternative building materials and conserve energy, and housing developments that promote walking and bicycling.

With environmental sustainability as a guiding principle, the Corps team is

  • building and maintaining America’s infrastructure and providing military facilities where servicemembers train, work and live
  • researching and developing technology for our war fighters
  • dredging America’s waterways to support the movement of critical commodities and providing recreation opportunities at our campgrounds, lakes and marinas
  • devising hurricane and storm damage reduction infrastructure, reducing risks from disasters.
  • protecting and restoring the environment including critical efforts in the Everglades, the Louisiana coast, and along many major waterways
  • cleaning sites contaminated with hazardous, toxic or radioactive waste and material

History – Congress established the Continental Army with a provision for a chief engineer on June 16, 1775. The Army established the Corps of Engineers as a separate, permanent branch on March 16, 1802, and gave the engineers responsibility for founding and operating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


  • New Orleans levees
  • Mississipi River – If it weren’t for the work of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River would not flow past New Orleans. The Old River Control Structure (ORCS) was built in 1963 to let only 30% of Mississippi River volume into the Atchafalaya basin.
  • ICW

That’s engineering

  • brackish – having a combination of fresh and salt water
  • |sediment – particles of dirt and rock that are carried by water, wind or ice and deposited elsewhere
  • hurricane – a violent tropical cyclone with winds moving at 73 or more MPH, often accompanied by torrential rains

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • research one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects. What kinds of engineers are involved? How long has this project been maintained? What are the benefits of this project? Are taxpayers getting good value?

Learn more…