Sponsoring Facilities

Army Facilities


Engineer Research and Development Center - Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (ERDC-CHL)

Service or Branch: Army

Location: Vicksburg, MS

ERDC-CHL Website

STEM Fields: Civil Engineering, Mathematics, Oceanography, Physics

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) performs ocean, estuarine, riverine, and watershed regional scale systems analysis research support work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DoD Task Force in support of the Ocean Commission. A CHL multi-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers and support personnel work in internationally known, unique facilities. This highly educated team has established experimental and computational expertise for solving water resource problems worldwide. CHL research and development addresses water resource challenges in groundwater, watersheds, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, estuaries, harbors, coastal inlets and wetlands. Physical facilities of approximately 1.7 million square feet are the basic infrastructure for producing cutting-edge products for successful coastal and inland water resources management. Research projects range from design guidance to three-dimensional numerical models. Focus is placed on inland and coastal navigation, military logistics over the shore, dredging, flood control, storm and erosion protection, waterway restoration, fish passage, hydro-environmental modeling, water/land management, and other water and sediment-related issues facing the nation. CHL work, although primarily in support of the Corp's divisions and districts, also interfaces with other federal, state and local agencies, academia, conservation groups, and the general public, as appropriate.

Current and future projects include:
1) Concrete Armoring For The 21st Century. An ongoing research effort is dramatically improving concrete armoring for coastal structures. This research, dating back to the 1950's, is driven by the need to design and build reliable navigation and shore protection structures in high waves energy environments. One product from WES research is the revolutionary concrete armor unit CORE-LOC. Another is The Samoa Stone™ , a unique interlocking concrete erosion protection module used to protect shorelines, waterways, and hydraulic structures from erosion from waves and flowing water.
2)The Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) mission is to perform operations, research, and development in airborne lidar bathymetry and complementary technologies to support the coastal mapping and charting requirements of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the US Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). JALBTCX executes survey operations using the Compact Hydrographic Airborne Rapid Total Survey (CHARTS) system and industry-based coastal mapping and charting systems. CHARTS is our in-house survey capability that includes an Optech, Inc., SHOALS-3000 lidar instrument integrated with an Itres CASI-1500 hyperspectral imager. CHARTS collects either 20 kHz topographic lidar data or 3 kHz bathymetric lidar data, each concurrent with digital RGB and hyperspectral imagery. Survey operations support the USACE National Coastal Mapping Program and NAVOCEANO nautical charting missions. Survey personnel include contracted employees of 3001, A Northrop Grumman Company. JALBTCX research and development supports and leverages work in government, industry, and academics to advance airborne lidar and coastal mapping and charting technology and applications.
3) Transformation-Scale Waves. Enhance the accuracy, range of applicability, and efficiency of the Corps' workhorse wave transformation technology, STWAVE. Near the coast, waves transform due to complex interactions with the bottom. Refraction, shoaling, local wave growth, wave-current interaction, and breaking modify the critical design parameters of wave height, period, and direction. Longshore and cross-shore variations in wave parameters are required for design and maintenance of beach, inlet, harbor, and channel projects. Nearshore waves provide the primary driving force for sediment transport, which is sensitive to breaking wave angles and energy dissipation. Accurate and efficient numerical modeling tools are required to estimate nearshore waves.
4) Flood and Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Program. The objectives of the Flood and Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Program are to develop new flood and coastal storm damage reduction technologies to enhance the effectiveness of projects, develop innovative techniques to reduce flood and coastal storm damages, and allow the integration of analysis tools to accelerate the study and design process for inland flood damage reduction and coastal shore protection. Engineering tools, computer models, and design guidance are being developed for flood and storm damage analysis, channel restoration evaluations, improvements in ice engineering, and evaluation and improvement of multi-dimensional hydrodynamic modeling.
5) Navigation Systems Research Program . The goal of the Navigation Systems Research Program is to develop integrated tools and methods to aid in the planning, design, construction, and management of present and future ports and waterways. The research seeks to create effective solutions in perspective with the multiple demands, requirements and constraints of real world commodity transport and power production problems. This involves the integration of many disciplines – water dynamics; infrastructure mechanics; advanced materials; power physics; economics; innovative construction; coastal and riverine processes; automated control and monitoring; remote sensing; operations research; stochastic processes and emerging technologies; and others.


The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is one of the most diverse engineering and scientific research organizations in the world. Provides high quality, responsive engineering and environmental research and development support to the Army and Nation. As part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team, ERDC develops innovative science and technology solutions to support war fighting, infrastructure, environmental, water resources, and disaster operations. It consists of seven laboratories at four geographical sites in Vicksburg, MS; Champaign, IL; Hanover, NH; and Alexandria, VA. ERDC employs more than 2,000 engineers, scientists and support personnel. For more information on our organization, please visit our website at www.erdc.usace.army.mil

Situated high on the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River, Vicksburg is a diverse business and tourism destination with a prosperous economy. Vicksburg boasts rich southern history, breathtaking architecture, terrific arts and culture, legendary shopping and dining. Where else can you cruise the mighty Mississippi River, enjoy riverboat gaming, tour some of the state's grandest historic homes, museums and explore a National Military Park. Whether it is nature viewing, fishing, hunting, golfing or picnicking you want, Vicksburg offers it all. Warren County, in which Vicksburg is located, lies between three rivers, the Mississippi, the Big Black and the Yazoo. The Southern hardwood bottomlands, and surrounding lakes and woodlands combined with Vicksburg’s position on the Mississippi River Flyway allow for some of the nation’s best birding opportunities including the majesty of bald eagles in flight at Eagle Lake. Here is the website to the city of Vicksburg: http://web.vicksburg.org/vicksburg/default.aspx

ERDC-CHL employs approximately 245 people, consisting of ~120 civil engineers, 40 oceanographers and physical scientists, and 10 mathematicians divided into several research branches of about 25 members each. Each year CHL hires about 25 new employees and in the next 2 to 5 years the STEM disciplines most likely to receive placement include Civil Engineering, Oceanography and Physics.