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October 23, 2009
By Jane Tors
College of Engineering students were reminded today that there are exciting job opportunities, even in these challenging economic times. The message was delivered by a prominent University alum, Brigadier General Mark Yenter (’81, civil engineering), commander and division engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division located in Hawaii.
The division includes four subordinate districts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and oversees engineering design, construction and real estate management for the Army and Air Force in Hawaii, Alaska, and for all Department of Defense Agencies in Japan, Republic of Korea and Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Yenter’s visit was part of two-week recruiting swing to university campuses in California and Nevada. Yenter and co-presenter James Bersson, director of regional business for the Corps, discussed what the Corps of Engineers does, how it is structured and the military and civilian job opportunities available.
The latter point may have been a surprise to the nearly 30 students who attended the presentations: Yenter noted there are 32,000 civilian employees in the Corps. “If you’re going to be an engineer, you will probably interact with the Army Corps of Engineers at some point in your career,” he said. Yenter, a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University’s Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, encouraged the future engineers to consider starting their professional career in an exciting place, such as the tropics, the arctic or the Far East, and to consider opportunities to work on large and complex construction projects.
Noting that engineering offers technical and academic career paths, Yenter offered some advice: “Follow your heart; do what you are passionate about.” Yenter credits several aspects of his experience as a student at Nevada as contributing to his success. He notes the quality of the curriculum in the civil engineering and ROTC departments established a solid professional foundation. The mentorship of engineering professors and Army officers helped him to understand personal and professional growth. Through his involvement in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, where he served as president, and the ROTC Department, where he served as battalion commander, he developed leadership skills and lifelong friendships.
Yenter is a fourth generation Nevadan and a fourth generation graduate of the University. His daughter, now attending the University, represents the fifth generation to attend Nevada. The family connection to the University began with his great-grandmother Georgina Nelson who graduated from the University in the early 1900s. Yenter has earned numerous military awards and decorations, and served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq before returning to the United States for an executive officer assignment at the Pentagon.
“Commanding soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Department of the Army civilians for 24 months in combat is by far the greatest challenge I have faced,” he said of his distinguished career. “I am most proud of their professionalism, courage and compassion… The best I have seen in 28 years of service.” On Friday Yenter will spend time with current members of the Wolf Pack Battalion, the University’s ROTC squad.