Japan Engineer District
Published March 2, 2021

CAMP ZAMA, JAPAN – Japan Engineer District observed Engineers Week in the company of friends with speeches, robotics, and a cake cutting in celebration of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and all engineers worldwide Feb. 26.

“Our current COVID-19 challenges have laid bare the crucial work of Engineers in creating a world safe from the pandemic,” Col. Thomas J. Verell, Jr., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Japan District commander, told the modest crowd. “Those of you who took the time out of your hectic schedules to join us know full well how important it is to honor our engineers of today and engage all students in the engineering pipeline.”

Engineers Week began in 1951 in the hopes of encouraging Engineering education and to foster diversity in the field. The late February date was chosen because it coincides with George Washington’s birthday as America’s first president is also considered to be its founding engineer.

The theme of Engineers Week 2021 was Imagining Tomorrow and keeping with that theme a team of students from Zama Middle High School’s STEM club gave a presentation showing off their robotic engineering skills.

“Every time that I get to interact with the next generation I’m amazed at their enthusiasm, and their innovation,” beamed Verell. “They see things in ways that my peers and I just cannot see - because they have a fresh viewpoint.”

Due to COVID safety considerations, the Japanese Ministry of Defense sent their well wishes via a recorded video message by the Director of U.S Facilities Construction and Planning Division, Dr. Hayato Moro.

“While we are required to have technical knowledge and a lot of experience as Engineers, mutual trust between Japanese and U.S. Engineers is particularly very important to harmonize technical competence of our two countries,” Moro said in his message. “Although our works are very difficult and challenging, I believe that as Japanese and U.S. Engineers continue to collaborate closely together without being bound by common practices in two countries, we can also contribute to further strengthening of our Alliance.”

Host nation partners from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, were in attendance as well. Col. Hirano Yoshiyuki, commander of Zama General Services Unit, JGSDF, presented Verell with a personal gift: a poster illustrating the different facets of engineering positions within JGSDF.

"This is our first time to join this event. It is a great honor and pleasure for us," said Col. Kazuya Ono, commander of the 4th Eng. Group, JGSDF. "I feel our relationship here at Camp Zama is very close and special in this moment. We are an Engineer family."

 “Engineers are changing the world all the time, dreaming up creative practical solutions while working with teams of smart, inspiring people to invent, design, and create things that matter,” Verell reflected on the day’s events. “What an incredible day to be an Engineer!”