Tulsa District Engineer among top five in the Corps’ top 25 in entire federal government

James Croston, chief of Technical Services Section of the Hydraulics and Hydrology branch, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pictured with Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during the Federal Engineer of the Year Award reception and ceremony at the National Press Club, Feb. 17. Croston is among the top 25 engineers in the Federal Government and the top five in the Corps of Engineers. (Photo by Sarah Gross)
James Croston, chief of Technical Services Section of the Hydraulics and Hydrology branch, Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pictured with Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during the Federal Engineer of the Year Award reception and ceremony at the National Press Club, Feb. 17. Croston is among the top 25 engineers in the Federal Government and the top five in the Corps of Engineers. (Photo by Sarah Gross)

A hydraulic engineer from the Hydraulics and Hydrology branch of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was named as a top five finalist from the Corps of Engineers for the 2017 Federal Engineer of the Year Award.

James Croston, chief of the Technical Services Section is among the top 25 professional engineers in the Federal Government, and was honored during the Federal Engineer of the Year Award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2017.

The Professional Engineers in Government annually sponsors the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. The organization is affiliated with the he National Society of Professional Engineers.

Croston, said the award is as much a credit to the people he supervises as it is to him.

“As a supervisor of engineers and technicians the only way that I can do well is because they do well,” he said. “I look at this as an ‘H’ and ‘H’ award. My accomplishments are representative of things many people did over many years.”

The Federal Engineer of the Year award is presented to either a civilian or military engineer who works for a Federal Agency that employs at least 50 professional engineers.

Croston oversees more than 120 real-time reporting stations managed by the U.S. Geological Survey through the National Cooperative of stream gauging program. He is also responsible for more than 160 water supply agreements. Croston’s accomplishments include overseeing a national and regional effort to develop a software package that is the next generation of real-time water control software. This software is being incorporated into the Corps water Management System.

Croston noted that by being nominated demonstrates his supervisor’s appreciation for the work force.

“It feels good to have bosses nominate you. These award nomination packages take time and require a lot of writing,” Croston said. “If someone is willing to take the time to write about an employee that says a lot.”

SWD Black History Month Spotlight: Ernest Burford

Burford 2New Orleans, Louisiana native Ernest Burford serves as Assistant Division Counsel for the Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dallas, Texas, a position he’s held since 2009.

As an SWD attorney Burford works to resolve key issues in civil works, labor and employment, and federal regulatory areas of law.

Black History Month

Before joining the Corps he worked as a litigator at several federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His areas of practice include labor and employment, civil works, environmental law, real estate, administrative law and general law.

Burford has been in practice for more than 25 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Louisiana State University and a Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center.

Q. Have you encountered any education challenges or hurdles that you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today?

A. When I attended LSU in the late 70s, the campus was not a place that was welcoming to African Americans outside of the sporting events. David Duke, a Ku Klux Klan leader, was a regular speaker at the Student Union where large crowds of students supported his racist message.

Q. Is there a defining moment from your formative years where you made a personal decision to get the education and experience you need to be where you are now in your career?

A. I attended Catholic schools until I went to college. Without the excellent education I received there, I doubt I would have been successful in my higher education experiences. The first day at my high school all students were asked where they planned to attend college; there was no other option. My friends in public school were asked “what are your plans” after high school. The seed that is planted in a young mind is so important to his or her future success.

Q. Was there someone along the way that inspired you or believed in you more than you believed in yourself? How important was it to have a mentor along the way?

A. My mother, who was an educator. She always emphasized the importance of education and set an example for me by obtaining her doctorate after the age of 40. She made me believe I could accomplish anything I was willing to work hard to achieve.

Q. What advice would you share with teenagers about choosing a STEM related or government service career?

A. You cannot go wrong choosing a career in STEM. It is the wave of the future.  Government service is a great career path. You will be provided opportunities and challenges early in your career that your peers in private industry will only dream about.