USACE Galveston District Spotlight on Tom Brauer

Published Aug. 29, 2014

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 29, 2014) – A quick look at the diverse engineering projects headed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was all it took to convince a young engineering graduate wanting to make his mark in the profession that this is where he needed to be. However, the career path for Department of the Army (DA) Civil Engineer Intern Tom Brauer, who entered the Corps 18 months ago through the DA Intern Program, wasn’t always this clear.

Originally entering college with every intention of using his natural abilities in art and design to become an architect, Brauer’s love of math and science over-rode these abilities and he found himself changing his major in his sophomore year, noting that the switch to becoming an engineer wasn’t completely without precedence. 

“My grandfather on my dad’s side of the family was a civil engineer working for the U.S. Geological Survey and later the CSX railroad,” said Brauer.

As a DA intern, Brauer participates in special developmental assignments around the Corps that provide him with knowledge and experience he can use to assist his colleagues in the H&H Division. Currently on assignment at the Environmental Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Miss., Brauer is working on a sediment management optimization tool, a navigation data analysis project and a Dredged Material Management Plan Sustainability Study.

“Tom has shown exceptional ability with hydrodynamic modeling,” said Rob Thomas, chief of the H&H Division and Brauer’s supervisor. “His work demonstrating the capabilities of RAS2D (two-dimensional modeling) enabled him to help develop new modeling methodologies. He has also shown incredible initiative, resulting in a developmental assignment to ERDC-Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory to upgrade systems that will enable engineers, planners and operators to better plan and manage navigation projects.”

When asked what he likes most about his work, Brauer noted that he enjoys the challenging nature of the projects and tasks he is assigned to assist with.

“I enjoy being given a difficult problem and applying my technical skills to develop a solution,” Brauer said.

No stranger to challenges, Brauer’s dedication overlaps in his personal life in the form of distance running – a passion that began in high school while a member of the cross country team and perfected over the years as he transformed into an elite marathoner. 

In January 2014, Brauer ran the Houston Marathon and finished 67th overall with a time of 2:50:35. In May he traveled to Boston for his 8th marathon, pushing himself to run his 3rd Boston Marathon at a personal best time of 2:49:08.

News of his Houston Marathon accomplishment reached USACE Headquarters and the USACE Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the USACE, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, sent him a congratulatory letter that read, “Truly amazing!  Thank you for serving as an intern with the Galveston District. We’re fortunate to have you on our team.”

Scheduled to graduate from the DA Intern Program in December 2014, Brauer is hoping he will remain in the USACE Galveston District as a civil engineer but adds that wherever the Army sends him, he’s happy he chose an engineering path and a career with the Corps. 

A Florida native, Brauer earned both his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (2010) and his Master of Engineering degrees in Civil Engineering-Hydrology and Water Resources (2011) from the University of Florida. When not working or training to break a five-minute mile he is either teaching Bible study at Coastal Community Church in Galveston or can be found exploring the outdoors on his mountain bike, kayak or sailboat.

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