Magazine honors two Huntsville Center engineers

Published May 17, 2017
Porscha Porter is one of two Huntsville Center employees to receive Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine's 40 Under 40 Award.

Porscha Porter is one of two Huntsville Center employees to receive Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine's 40 Under 40 Award.

Africa Welch-Castle is one of two Huntsville Center employees to receive Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine's 40 Under 40 Award.

Africa Welch-Castle is one of two Huntsville Center employees to receive Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine's 40 Under 40 Award.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine announced May 15 that two U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, engineers are among 40 nonresidential building industry professionals age 40 and younger to receive the 2017 40 Under 40 award.

Porscha Porter, chief of the Strategy and Business Management Branch in Huntsville Center’s Energy Division, and Africa Welch-Castle, the strategic development lead, also with the Energy Division, will receive the award at a ceremony in Chicago Oct. 3.

Candidates were nominated by a professional colleague or mentor and judged based on nine areas including their commitment to excellence in their academic, professional, personal and community involvement. Porter and Welch-Castle are the only two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees to receive the 2017 award.

“This year’s 40 Under 40 winners are superb in so many ways,” said Amara Rozgus, Editor-in-Chief of Consulting-Specifying Engineer. “Now in its 10th year, the program has expanded to honor the best of the best in the industry.”

Porter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Alabama A&M University, in Normal, Alabama, and a Master of Science degree in management from the Florida Institute of Technology, in Melbourne, Florida.  She is also a certified project management professional.  She holds several Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certifications: Level III in engineering; Level II in program management; Level II in facilities engineering; Level I in test and evaluation. Certified Project Management Professional; member of the Huntsville Project Management Institute and the Society of American Military Engineers.

As the strategy and business management branch chief, Porter manages the Huntsville Center’s energy strategic-development team, providing a strong and unique combination of services to include strategic development for integrated energy planning, microgrid solutions, international/interagency support, energy center of expertise/sustainability, and support for the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives and the Air Force’s Office of Energy Assurance.

Porter said she plays a key role in developing frameworks, guidance and transformative energy concepts and initiatives into viable programs by leveraging the Energy Division’s expertise, providing outreach and pursuing partnerships within the energy community.

“Our team works with internal and external organizations in developing new energy initiatives into potential projects and programs,” Porter said.  “We collaborate and share knowledge and expertise with our strategic partners across many agencies to include Department of Energy, Department of Defense and local organizations such as Energy Huntsville.”

She is an active participant with Energy Huntsville, a nonprofit dedicated to growing the region’s economy in the energy sector and establishing the city as the go-to technology center for solutions to energy programs and projects. Porter was instrumental in the support of the Huntsville Center’s Energy Division earning the USACE a 2016 Good Neighbor Award for its collaboration and partnership with Energy Huntsville.

Prior to her career with USACE, Porter served overseas, where she expanded her skills into facilities and construction as the Army Materiel Command’s chief engineer responsible for managing all AMC projects and facility requirements in Kuwait and Qatar. During this time, she supervised and managed the facilities engineering staff and the AMC housing team for the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, carrying out critical facility missions.

Welch-Castle is a professional engineer who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, and a Master of Business Administration in project management from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a Civil Engineer Corps officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

She has more than 15 years of diverse engineering experience, ranging from hydraulic pedestal crane design/manufacturing to roadway/hydrologic designs for the Texas Department of Transportation to mechanical, electrical and plumbing design.

In her nearly six-year U.S. Army career, Welch-Castle has been instrumental in teaching, implementing and taking an innovative approach to energy. For five and a half of those years, she was an energy manager for Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works, Energy Management Branch where she coordinated and developed energy conservation projects for solicitation of energy funding. She also served as a consultant for projects related to environmental, electrical and mechanical, including new construction, alterations, repair and maintenance by overseeing and participating in the development of long- (or short-) range energy management plans for the incorporation of energy conservation by utilizing various program opportunities. She integrated the energy program with other Army programs through interrelationships and ensuring compatibility with Army plans, policies and goals by reviewing plans, specifications, shop drawings, material approvals, engineering studies, cost studies, surveys, and analyses; and assisting in writing contracts and specifications for various energy related projects.

As an energy manager, she directed, coordinated and analyzed energy data; existing conditions; and conducted engineering studies, surveys, audits and special studies to optimize program efficiencies and determine feasibility and adequacy of projects. She also provided advice and recommendations on matters concerning energy management. Her methods helped structure and build relationships at Fort Hood, which improved the existing energy program and helped it to grow.

At Huntsville Center, Welch-Castle works with military installations and laboratories to conduct microgrid assessments.

“I am working on a microgrid initiative using third party financing that will help enhance energy security and resiliency for different agencies,” Welch-Castle said.  “We look at the installations existing infrastructure makeup used for operation.  Then identify mission critical functions and look for ways to ensure those functions can continue if something catastrophic were to happen.  A microgrid is typically a standalone approach that is considered to be one solution that can be used to enhance energy security, but we are innovatively looking for others.” 

For additional information about the 40 Under 40 program, visit