Category Archives: Galveston Employee Spotlight

Galveston Employee Spotlight

Spotlight on USACE Galveston District’s Capt. Robert M. Burnham

Capt. Robert M. Burnham
Each Soldier in the U.S. Army plays a role in maintaining the nation’s security. For Army Capt. Robert M. Burnham, the economic strength of the nation remains secure, as he fulfills his role as an operations manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Navigation Branch, managing dredging-related operations and maintenance projects along the Texas coast.

GALVESTON, Texas (Aug. 3, 2015) – Each Soldier in the U.S. Army plays a role in maintaining the nation’s security. For Army Capt. Robert M. Burnham, the economic strength of the nation remains secure, as he fulfills his role as an operations manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Navigation Branch, managing dredging-related operations and maintenance projects along the Texas coast.

With nine years under his belt as an active duty Soldier, Burnham has spent the last year applying his expertise in engineering to help maintain more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft, a task that allows vessels to carry critical commodities that contribute to the nation’s economic power. 

“I like working on projects that mean something and have a purpose. In the case of my navigation projects with the Corps, there are potential impacts to the local and national economies if we do not deliver,” said Burnham. “Knowing this keeps you on your game, and often times, thinking outside the box to keep projects moving forward for the benefit of the nation.” 

On any given day, Burnham can be seen working on a variety of dredging projects, including the Freeport Entrance Channel maintenance job and placement area containment dike raising, the channel to Victoria middle reach maintenance contract and Texas U.S. Coast Guard Stations maintenance project. He also works on rapid response contracts for hurricane season, ensuring the district is prepared to keep navigation channels open should a hurricane occur.

“I enjoy leading project delivery teams. As an Army officer, leadership has always been an inherent part of my duties,” said Burnham. “Planning, coordinating and executing is what I loved about commanding an engineer company, and it is no different leading teams in the Corps. There are always challenges, but pushing through them and seeing the fruits of your labor is a great feeling and just makes you want to do it again.”

Burnham says his most memorable moment with the USACE Galveston District was stepping on the government-owned hopper dredge Wheeler for the very first time. 

“Before then, I had never seen a hopper dredge in person,” said Burnham. “Having the opportunity to not only board the Wheeler, but to be a part of the planning to bring her to Freeport, Texas, was awesome.”

According to Burnham, working with the Corps as an engineer officer is considered a broadening assignment for his rank as an Army captain. 

“The idea is to have Army captains complete their key developmental assignments, which was company command for me, then send them to a part of the Army to broaden them and expand their knowledge base,” said Burnham. “In my case, I was incredibly lucky to be assigned to the USACE Galveston District. It has opened my eyes to the civilian component of the engineer regiment. Being able to manage civil works projects is an incredible learning experience that will carry with me as I move through my career.”

According to Burnham, he likes to be challenged. 

“Every single job I’ve ever had in the engineer branch has been tough and demanding, yet very rewarding,” he said.

Prior to joining the USACE Galveston District, Burnham spent a year in Korea as the chief of the Master Planning Branch for the Directorate of Public Works at Yongsan Garrison. He previously commanded the 362nd Multi Role Bridge Company in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Burnham earned a Bachelor of Science in business from The Citadel and a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Missouri Science & Technology. He’s earned multiple accolades throughout his Army career including, the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and two Army Commendation medals. 

In his spare time, Burnham enjoys to golf, fish and barbecue. He is married to his wife Raquel and has one daughter, Madelyn.


Spotlight on USACE Galveston District’s Suhail Idriss

Nearly three decades have passed since Suhail Idriss began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District as a structural engineer. Co-workers have come and gone and technology continues to rapidly change but in the midst of all of these transformations, one thing remains the same - his devotion to civil service.
Nearly three decades have passed since Suhail Idriss began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District as a structural engineer. Co-workers have come and gone and technology continues to rapidly change but in the midst of all of these transformations, one thing remains the same – his devotion to civil service.

Story by Sandra Arnold
Galveston District
Public Affairs Office

Nearly three decades have passed since Suhail Idriss began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District as a structural engineer. Co-workers have come and gone and technology continues to rapidly change but in the midst of all of these transformations, one thing remains the same – his devotion to civil service.

“As a taxpayer I am privileged to be entrusted to perform the duties of the U.S. government office,” said Idriss. “It is a great pleasure to fulfill the duties of the office.”

Idriss is entrusted with managing a diverse group of projects ranging from contributing to feasibility studies to overseeing environmental ecosystem restoration projects as the Boulevard Resaca at Brownsville.

According to Idriss, the Boulevard Resacas at Brownsville project, located along the Rio Grande River in the southern half of Cameron County, Texas, consists of approximately 25 acres of former channels of the Rio Grande River that have been cut off from the river, having no inlet or outlet as a result of siltation of the oxbow channels and loss of critical native aquatic and riparian habitat.

“The riparian vegetation, found exclusively in resaca and riparian corridors of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, have been designated by Texas Parks and Wildlife as habitats critically imperiled with extinction or elimination,” said Idriss. “Over the years, portions of the Resacas have become bottomland with the remaining stretches of channel having formed into a series of unconnected horseshoe bends with impacted habitat.”

Idriss explains that the district and its partner, the City of Brownsville, are working together to find solutions to preserve the Resacas, enhance habitats for birds and wildlife as well as increase storm water and raw water storage capacity that can be used in times of need. Once completed, the project with leave behind multiple benefits, including a water recreation component, for residents and visitors to enjoy in the decades that follow.

“I enjoy the teamwork component to my job,” said Idriss. “The success in accomplishing every task is a direct result of a combined team effort.”
A native of Beirut, Lebanon, he earned his diploma in structural engineering from the University of Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia in 1978, a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983 and became a licensed professional engineer in both structural and civil engineering disciplines.

Idriss earned several awards throughout his career with the USACE and in 1990 he volunteered to deploy to Saudi Arabia in support Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Now in his 35 year of marriage to wife, Vivian, the two enjoy spending their free time catching up with their son, a senior project engineer in San Antonio, Texas, and daughter, a product manager in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Idriss retired at the end of May 2015.