Position: Senior Mechanical Engineer in Design Branch of Engineering & Construction Division Years with Little Rock District: 15+ years Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Arkansas State University Certifications: Professional Engineer (PE License in Ark.). Also have Advanced Leader Bronze & Advanced Communicator Bronze with Toastmasters International Communication Program. Hobbies: Besides spending time with Family and Friends, I enjoy bowling, exercising with weights & Cardio boot camps, working puzzles, going to movies and listening to music…ok dancing too. Q: You have been with the district 15 years, how has your job changed over the years? A: After working in private industry for three years, I started working as a mechanical engineer in the Design Branch in January of 2001. The first several years involved asking loads of questions, adsorbing knowledge on both military and civil works projects, and learning federal codes and regulations. After working on various types of designs as the lead mechanical engineer and being assigned as the Design Coordinator on multi-discipline projects, I was selected as the Mechanical Engineering Technical Expert in May 2008. Since then I have worked in the Hydropower Section of Operations Division, completed a developmental assignment as a Military Project Manager in PPMD, and served 18 months as interim Chief of Mechanical Electrical Section in Design Branch. Currently I am still designing various mechanical systems and coordinating technical projects, as well as conducting internal and architectural and engineering design reviews, performing site investigations, managing project labor funding, working with construction personnel, and mentoring new engineers. Q: What are your short and long term professional and personal goals? A: Professional – Continue enhancing my engineering knowledge and Design Coordination experience to best serve the District as our Mechanical Technical Expert, achieve LEED Green Associate certification, and obtain Advanced Communicator Silver with Toastmasters. Long term is further developing project coordination and leadership skills to advance into Project Management and ultimately the Chief of Design Branch or E&C Division. A: Personal – Supporting my daughter in every aspect to see her grow into a beautiful young lady and excel in school to be whatever she desires in life. Keep bowling to achieve a 250 or 300 game and increase my average to 180. Teach Algebra and start my own cake decorating business after retirement. Q: What do you do to instill your veteran knowledge in new engineers? A: I try to share information without overwhelming anyone by ensuring I sit down face to face for mentoring sessions, provide examples for reference, and supply resources needed to learn and grow in the organization. My main objective is open communication where others feel comfortable coming to ask questions anytime, regardless the subject, so they can begin and continue to adsorb the knowledge of the Design Branch and the Corps. Q: What do you enjoy most about your job? A: After working as an Engineering Technician in Design Branch for two summers during college, I knew the Corps was where I wanted to work because of the variety of jobs and great people. I enjoy the aspects of both military and civil works projects, meeting new people, and traveling all over the state and country. Honestly, I consider the Corps my work family and being involved with the District’s Bowling League, Civilian Recreation Association, and Toastmasters help me build relationships with co-workers to become friends. Q: What projects are you working on now and what are some of the challenges? A: Currently I am working on several HVAC renovation projects at different military installations and civil works project offices along with projects for Army and Air Force medical facility renovations and new military construction. Adequate funding seems to be an ongoing challenge for many projects as well as time schedule constraints and limited personnel resources. Renovation projects sometimes have issues with unknown As-Built conditions which can take contract modifications to resolve. Our main objective as a project delivery team is to work through these challenges and provide a product that is within budget, on-time and operational for the customer. Q: What has been your favorite project you have worked on? A: My most rewarding projects have been the Child Development and Youth Centers over the last 10 years. Working on these facilities located throughout Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia have enabled me to see the whole process from initial planning, through design development, to completed construction, and finally an occupied facility. I have built a great rapport with the Installations and user groups personnel as well as the Army Child Youth Services Team. To know the staff and kids are happy and appreciate the facilities, makes it all worth our team effort. Q: What ways have you found to balance your home life with the busy schedule you have at work? A: As a single parent it’s a struggle at times to balance family and career. I depend upon my phone calendar to coordinate personal activities and work travel, plan healthy meals in advance, and have a daily routine in order to maintain my sanity. Of course the support from my mother to care for my daughter after school and overnight when I’m traveling is a huge blessing! Q: Tell us something about yourself we don’t know? A: Besides my other hobbies, I like baking and decorating cakes for family and friends including Spiderman, TMN Turtles, Darth Vader, Scooby Do, softball glove, football field, Razorbacks, John Deere Tractor, Camaros, Grave Digger Monster Truck, and even the Gates of Graceland. Music is my escape from stress, especially Prince and New Kids on the Block. My first real vacation in 2002 was a trip to Paisley Park in Minnesota to see Prince perform for a week long music celebration. My passion for New Kids on the Block started in 1990 but since the group reunited in 2008, I have traveled to over 35 shows in a dozen cities and met with Donnie Wahlberg more than 25 times. Of course I also follow Donnie Wahlberg’s acting career and watch him Friday nights on Blue Bloods.
A. I think the size and scope of the Southwestern Division, and the impact of our projects on the American people, have honestly been impressive. The entire state of Texas by itself is a whole lot of territory. Throw in Oklahoma, most of Arkansas, parts of Missouri and Kansas (and then reconfigure for the military missions), and it’s remarkable. Add to that the benefit that our projects provide to the communities—as well as the interaction that I’ve seen between the Army Corps of Engineers and the communities—and there is a lot of story to tell there. When you work your piece of it every day, you might not see the overall impact. But from my perspective, what the Southwestern Division team accomplishes is tangible and it is value added.
Q. With short trips to three of the four Districts under your belt, any takeaways from those trips?
A. The dedication that USACE employees have to mission accomplishment. The professionalism displayed by every employee I have interacted with from the park rangers at Lewisville and Table Rock lakes, the staffs at the district offices and the lock operators on the White River in Arkansas.
Q. This is your second assignment with the Army Corps of Engineers but first with a civil works mission, which is unique in the Army, as it is composed mainly of a civilian workforce. What are your thoughts on this?
A. Civilians are a critical component of the U.S. Army. The Army employs about 260,000 civilians, which is about half of our active duty force. So I have worked with civilians my entire career. The bonus with the Army Corps of Engineers is the wide array of skill sets and the professional and technical expertise of this workforce. With just about every type of STEM background, every kind of engineering degree, half of our workforce with an academic degree and 71 percent with some college—the Southwestern Division is a real powerhouse of human capital! Who wouldn’t be proud to be a leader of this kind of workforce?
Q. We understand you come from a military family. Tell us a little about yourself.
A. I am the son of a career soldier and the oldest of four kids. My father retired as a sergeant first class in 1988, the year I left to begin my military career by attending West Point Prep School and eventually the United States Military Academy, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I am married to a wonderful spouse who hails from Baton Rouge, and we are blessed with two beautiful daughters and a brindle boxer named Fred.
Q. Is it true that you accepted this assignment because you are a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan?
A. That is an evil question! I enjoy all sports, but I love college and professional football and rugby. I am a diehard Army Football fan and we will BEAT NAVY this year. I also follow the Louisiana State University Tigers and love Southeastern Conference football. My professional football team is the Denver Broncos.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
A. I knew coming into the job that I would have big shoes to fill, as Col. R.J. Muraski had six total years in the Division and three years as the deputy commander. I have felt welcomed to the SWD family as I make my way around the various offices and cubicles, and I am often reminded by the SWD folks that I meet that everyone has been new to USACE at some point, so they can relate as I learn new acronyms and new faces. I am excited to be here in Dallas and look forward to getting out to the districts and meeting the team. I feel that it is truly an honor and a privilege to serve with the SWD Pacesetter Team, and I look forward working with and getting to know everyone!
GO ARMY BEAT NAVY!!