Description of agency and internship overview:
USACE delivers vital engineering solutions throughout the Pacific southwest, in collaboration with our partners, to secure our Nation, energize our economy, and reduce risk from disaster. In particular, the Planning and Policy Division of South Pacific Division (SPD) supports water resources development through close coordination with SPD’s four Districts and HQUSACE. The Flood Risk Management Planning Center of Expertise is housed at SPD and has dedicated national technical specialists who provide real-time technical and policy expertise directly to project delivery teams across USACE.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is undergoing an agency-wide transformation to solve complex water resources challenges while providing the public with flood risk, ecosystem restoration, and navigation benefits, using less time and funding than in the past, under a risk management paradigm. provides leadership through this change by facilitating the sharing of information and lessons learned, training staff, and working with our Headquarters office to interpret policy and provide guidance to the field. Moreover, with a trend to delegate more project delivery functions to the District/field level, SPD has taken on increased program management functions, including project and program tracking, reporting and trends assessments.
The intern will be working with the Planning and Policy Division team, which consists of five technical leads/program managers, one supervisor, and three national community of practice leads in the Flood Risk Management Planning Center of Expertise (nine total). The intern’s work would primarily entail research (finding information, speaking with experts, compiling data), analyzing and distilling information, displaying trends through data visualization, developing courses of action, and communicating direction. The intern may have other opportunities to participate in project milestones meetings/leadership forums, attend site visits, and participate in activities and office-related social gatherings. SPD would like assistance with developing a searchable database and user-friendly platform that can display project and program information and assess trends. The Corps has several internal project and financial databases that often do not correspond with one another, and no database provides a complete picture of the lifecycle of a project. The goal is to streamline and automate the program management functions to the extent practicable. Ultimately, SPD would benefit from receiving training on the new system so that program managers can easily take over management of the system.
A growing portion of the planning portfolio is the Tribal and Other Partnership Programs (TOPPs), which include small projects for tribes, disadvantaged communities and smaller local governments. With increased funding, visibility and priority of these projects within the current Administration, the importance of tracking, and reporting on, these projects has become of paramount importance. A specific goal of this internship will be to create a functional internet-based, user-friendly TOPPs tracking platform for use by SPD and its Districts that will facilitate the tracking of projects and programs over time, drawing upon the information sourced from various databases.
Developing the searchable database and user-friendly platform will entail the steps below.
- Research existing internal databases to assess functionality
- Interview program managers to assess needs for better tracking
- Design or set up a new tracking system
- Collect and enter data on ongoing/existing projects
- Establish a variety of data visualization tools for display
Bill Lane Center internships are part of Cardinal Quarter opportunities and we encourage students from all disciplines to apply to our opportunities. The opportunities are full-time (35-40 hours a week) for 10-weeks during the summer. Specific start and end dates can be coordinated directly with the supervisor.
Junior and senior year students will likely benefit the most from an internship at USACE-SPD given the focus of this office on managing complex water resources projects and programs, as well as providing field offices with training and policy guidance. Students from majors or having interests such as computer science or programming, data visualization, engineering (civil, environmental, geotechnical, etc.), environmental policy and planning, physical sciences, social sciences, life sciences, economics, etc. will likely succeed in this internship.
Note: Students are only eligible for one Stanford-funded full-time experiential learning opportunity during the 2021-22 academic year (inclusive of summer).
For more helpful application advice, please visit the BLC’s FAQs page.
Research skills (the ability to find information and apply judgment as to the value/applicability of given information)
With sufficient guidance and direction, the ability to work independently and provide tangible results
Enthusiasm for learning and trying new things; and a willingness to ask for help when needed
General knowledge of water resources problems and the complexity of natural and built environments is also helpful
Communication skills – written, verbal and visual – to help convey complex information and key messages in a way that is understandable to a wide variety of audiences
Team building skills – a strength in interpersonal communication, facilitation, collaboration.
Specialized areas of emphasis or study that will add value and help meet SPD’s goals. For example, the 2018 intern had training in desktop publishing which helped our team in numerous ways and exceeded our expectations. Other areas of knowledge, skills and abilities are welcome!
Selection of applicants:
Complete applications are screened and finalists are contacted for an interview with staff from the Bill Lane Center for the American West. The top candidates for each position are forwarded to the agency for direct interviews with their potential supervisors and other agency staff. Host agencies will then notify the Lane Center of their preferred candidate and that applicant will receive an internship offer by email. The applicant is expected to respond promptly (within 48 hours) via email to the offer, or the offer will be rescinded. Once an applicant accepts an offer, the student should promptly notify all other Stanford and non-Stanford programs to which they have applied that they have accepted another offer and to withdraw their candidacy.