by C1C Walsleben
This past summer, I was selected to attend Field Engineering Readiness Laboratory (FERL) at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA). This is a 3-week, hands-on program focused towards Civil Engineering (CE) majors. As a cadet in ROTC, getting to go to USAFA for part of the summer is an outstanding opportunity to learn with and interact with other cadets from all over the nation.
The main goal of FERL is to teach cadets what Civil Engineering is like in the Air Force. For 3 weeks, I got to build houses, pave roads, pour concrete, drive bull dozers and dump trucks, and work alongside enlisted individuals who do this sort of work every day in the Air Force. While there was a lot of academic time, there was also plenty of time spent swinging hammers, welding, and breaking concrete beams. On the weekends, we were allowed to go wherever and do whatever we wanted. For me, this involved hiking up several mountains, going to a Colorado Rockies game, and exploring the beauty of the Colorado Springs area in the summertime. Needless to say, I had an amazing time both learning and exploring.
For most people, the only summer program they do in ROTC is Field Training. I am extremely glad that I got to go and experience this wonderful program, and it made for one of the best summer breaks I could’ve asked for.