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.
Kellis L. Nobles is a Senior Regional Engineer in the Southwestern Division’s Regional Business Technical Office. Although he has only been with the Division since May 2015, he has been a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee for 34 years. He has also worked in the Savannah, Europe and Japan Districts. When not working at the Division, Nobles enjoys reading novels, studying military history and custom picture framing.
Q. Who or what inspired you to choose your career field?
A. I have always been fixated on building structures and architecture. During High School and for a year after I graduated as well as during summer vacations during college I worked as a construction bricklayer and concrete finisher. A friend, knowing my abilities in math and science, convinced me to enroll at Winston-Salem State University, where I completed my freshman year. The following year I transferred to North Carolina A&T State University and earned my degree in Architectural Engineering.
Q. What advice would you share with teenagers about choosing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related or government service career?
A. STEM-related careers are very rewarding, but they require hard work. Don’t let the rigorous math and science requirements scare you. They can be difficult— but they can be mastered with dedication and perseverance. Also, resources are available to assist with these subjects when times get hard.
Government service is great! One reason is that you are doing things for the good of our wonderful Nation. Government service can often provide opportunities that are not available through other career paths, to include work diversity, international travel, accelerated growth in job responsibility/management/supervisory, and an elevated sense of service and support to our valued armed forces.
Q. What has been your most memorable USACE project or program?
A. My most memorable program with USACE was managing Military Construction associated with the Fort Bragg Medical Facility Construction Program. The program included the construction of the new one million square foot, Fort Bragg Medical Center and three major medical clinics. Over a nine year period working on the Fort Bragg medical center, I witnessed the felling of the first tree on the site and was there when the first baby was delivered in the facility!
Q. The Black History Month theme this year is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.” Is there a site or event in Black History that holds a special memory or meaning to you?
A. The most memorable site to me was when I visited the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although this was a tragic event for America as a whole, I am proud of how this hallowed ground has been preserved. It can be witnessed not only by those who lived through this tragic event, but more so for youths of all races who may not fully understand the significance of what Dr. King achieved for America and the rest of the world.