Corps apprentice program to graduate three journeymen

Published May 23, 2012

UMATILLA, Ore. -- Three students will graduate from the Walla Walla District’s Apprentice Program June 14 during a 10 a.m. ceremony at McNary Lock and Dam, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials announced today. 

Jason M. Collins from Kennewick, Wash., works at Ice Harbor Lock and Dam as a power plant electrician. 

Tyler A Shaffer, from Milton-Freewater, Ore, works at Little Goose Lock and Dam as a power plant mechanic.

Phillip A. Snodgrass, an Army veteran from Irrigon, Ore., works at McNary Lock and Dam as a power plant electrician.

The apprentice program, based at McNary Lock and Dam near Umatilla, Ore., develops trades and crafts journeymen to serve in Walla Walla District hydropower facilities.  The program typically graduates three to four apprentices each year.  Depending on prior education, or simultaneous enrollment in a related college education program, students can pursue a three or four-year program to become electrical, mechanical or operations journeymen.

The first year focuses on gaining general hydropower knowledge, after which each student pursues a dedicated craft that signifies the start of a new career.  The next two to three years are spent under the guidance of journeymen and a rigid academic curriculum. Academic work includes textbook studies, computer-based training and a strong emphasis of hands-on training.  During their apprenticeship, students gain work experience at all six hydroelectric facilities in the district before they join the workforce as craftspersons. 

"Across the Corps, we've recognized the need to plan for a sustainable workforce as a large percentage of our current workforce nears retirement eligibility. This program enables the district to better meet its future craftsman needs. Apprentices learn from the masters, rather than trying to glean that knowledge out of a book at a later time when the experts may not be here to help them," said Pete McGuckin, Walla Walla District’s training officer for the program. “This graduation ceremony serves to recognize the students’ efforts and welcome them to the ranks of journeymen, and to thank the craftsmen who coached them.”

For more information about the Walla Walla District’s Apprentice Program, check out our website at


Release no. 12-50