This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri March 3rd 2020. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
Building trades students. Do you like construction? Think that’s what you want to do? The Gehlert family has been educating builders at Belle High School for decades, and most of you can get a job, with a company building or remodeling houses, after you graduate. But, how would you like to be in charge? Surveying the site, deciding if the ground will really support construction, produce plans that adhere to either local codes or some set of specifications, and supervising the project until completion? That means a four year degree in civil engineering, unless you are able to enlist in the Army for Technical Engineer MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 12T.
The US Army has dozens of enlisted jobs, where the enlisted soldiers are performing the same job as civilian college graduates. Some may think, “Well, those soldiers are not as well trained as the college grads.” Horse hockey, many of those are admitted, by their industry, to be even better trained than their civilian counter parts, such as Geospatial Engineer. Army courses of instruction don’t include, history, socially, psychology, basket weaving, or any other elective included in most bachelor’s degrees, deemed as necessary to “round out your education”. The Army teaches the core functions of the job, purely and intensely. It produces construction engineers in four and one half months.
Army engineers are constantly building things. Training air strips, training buildings, permanent buildings, and training structures of various types. You will see bulldozers and earth movers moving earth, electricians stringing wire in a framed structure, and off to the side is a single soldier, maybe with a small table with a drawing, watching. You might think that is the engineer, probably an officer with a degree in mechanical or civil engineering. You would be wrong, that is the Technical Engineer, MOS 12T. And whatever his or her rank, Private First Class, Specialist or Sergeant, that person, although not officially, is in effect, in charge of the project, making sure that it is being completed according to plan.
Before carpenters can start framing, or electricians wiring, plumbers laying lines, or a road grader can start leveling an airstrip, the site must be surveyed and the soil tested to determine its capability for supporting construction. Once the survey and testing is complete, and the final site determined, elevation drawings and utility drawings must be completed, then foundation drawings, floor plans, building elevation drawings, sectional drawings, and framing, wiring, and plumbing drawings.
Let’s say that an Army Engineer Battalion is given the mission of constructing a fair size building, with a couple class rooms, a large room for a sand table, and two latrines (restrooms), out in the woods on a training site. The 12T, whoever or whatever rank he or she is, goes to the site and does a site survey, and does soil tests, to determine, in place soil density, compaction, and moisture content. An Army 12T no longer has the work “dirt” in his vocabulary, that stuff is now “soil”. He then sits down with Auto Cad and designs the building, producing several sets of drawings to include, floor plan, foundation drawing, building elevation drawing, sectional view drawing, and utility plan drawing. After his boss, the colonel, approves and signs off on the plan, it is back to the site, where he places survey stakes, and checks earth work. He checks slump when receiving concrete, and takes samples on which he conducts break tests. During construction he is constantly checking material and checking construction against plans. He produces separate drawings for carpenters, electricians, and plumbers.
If our 12T Engineer Technician leaves the Army, after his or her enlistment, he doesn’t have to look far for a job, his skills are highly desired by many civilian construction companies. One 12T graduate said this; “It’s a pretty stellar MOS… Not many of us around. I was part of a Reserve Component out of NEPA. AIT consisted of hand drafting, Auto CAD, surveying with GPS and theodolite and, my fav, soils n materials testing! I used that MOS to go on to earn an AAS in Construction Management and worked for a local company, moving up thru the ranks from laborer/traffic control to construction admin to grade foreman to safety director… Wouldn’t trade my MOS for anything!”
This is a great job for construction people, but you might have to wait for it. It is a small field, but if you think that is what you want to do in life, it may well be worth the wait. The requirements are, have an ASVAB ST (Skilled Technical) score of at least 101, but to be competitive for this job, that score needs to be, at least, up in the 120’s. ST consists of the general science, verbal expression, mathematical knowledge and mechanical comprehension tests. The Army will also check your transcript to make sure that you have credit for two years of math, including algebra and general science.
Everybody who enlists in the Army goes through 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training (BCT). BCT is as tough now as it has been since World War II, but no it is not the same. Gone is the unnecessary physical and mental harassment, replaced by demanding, intense, professional training. Anyone who is physically and mentally capable, and does not “give up”, will make it through basic training. On the first day of basic training, new arrivals may think that the Drill Sergeants job is to eliminate the weak, their job is to convert trainees into soldiers and GET THEM THROUGH BASIC TRAINING.
Army MOS 12T AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is 18 weeks long at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It is divided into four phases. Phase I is a four week cram course on Auto Cad. Auto Cad is the world’s primary computer aided design program, used to design everything from simple buildings to jet airplanes and rockets. 12T’s will be near experts in Auto Cad, by the time they complete AIT. The second phase is six weeks of surveying. You learn every element of surveying, and become a qualified surveyor. The third phase is four weeks of soils. That is where dirt leaves your vocabulary. You learn to perform every soil and concrete test. The final four weeks is advanced surveying, using Trimble 8 satellite receiver systems, with survey equipment, to tie government Global GPS into digitally accurate surveying. Some time is also spent specifically on airfield surveying.
After AIT, 12T’s can be assigned anywhere in the world, where Army engineer battalions are located, which is just about everywhere. Taking the airborne option will give you a good chance of being assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.