HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, is joining other federal agencies and groups from around the world February 21 to 27 to celebrate National Engineers Week.
The annual observance is a time to celebrate how engineers make a difference in the world, increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, bring engineering to life for students, and ensure a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce.
As a specialized branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one of the world’s largest public engineering, design and construction management agencies, Huntsville Center is home to more than 200 talented engineers who use their ingenuity and expertise to solve some of the nation’s toughest challenges.
One of the newest engineers at Huntsville Center is Andrew Boston, who joined the team in July 2020 as a safety engineer in support of the Facility Technology Integration Division, Planning and Programming Support, and the Fuels Branch.
Though his education and career initially focused on chemical engineering, Boston said he has enjoyed his work as a safety engineer, a role he has served in with multiple USACE districts since 2016.
“I really love doing safety because I’ve gotten to do work with so many different things: diving, drones, medicines. I’ve even done legal work where I look to make sure we’re following the appropriate safety measures to protect workers,” said Boston. “From my perspective, it never gets boring.”
He added that another reason he loves his job is the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
“I am motivated by the fact that government has the ability to make some of the biggest impacts possible on everyday life for people,” said Boston. “That makes me want to set a high bar and achieve it.”
Boston demonstrated this ability to its fullest extent with his work in support of Operation Blue Roof, a program offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through USACE that provides homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to temporarily cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs can be made.
His experimental work using aerial photography and drones to conduct site assessments of homes damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 sought to reduce the risk of injury for employees, decrease program costs, and speed up the recovery process for residents affected by the storms. When he was called to provide guidance following Hurricane Laura in 2020, he demonstrated the advantages of his efforts on an even larger scale.
Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, commanding general of USACE Mississippi Valley Division, later recognized Boston’s professionalism and technical expertise with a commander’s coin for his work in support of Operation Blue Roof.
Wade Doss, director, Huntsville Center Engineering Directorate, said the Center’s greatest strength is its people, and he agreed with Boston that USACE provides unique opportunities for engineers.
“We have an extraordinarily gratifying mission supporting our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines,” said Doss. “And our engineers get to explore a range of interests by working on a diverse portfolio of projects.”
Huntsville Center is home to 43 programs covering five lines of effort—Energy, Operational Technology, Environmental, Medical, and Base Operations and Facilities. Entry-level engineers new to the Center are assigned a two- to three-year training plan that includes on-the-job rotations through each of the different branches and divisions, giving them experience in a variety of disciplines, he said.
For students interested in pursuing a career in the engineering field, Doss offered two pieces of advice: start early and choose wisely.
“First, try to get into the workplace as early as you can through a high-school or college co-op program that will help to acclimate you to the professional environment and expose you to the day-to-day of your desired profession,” said Doss. “Second, pick a specialty you’re passionate about. If you follow the first piece of advice and spend some time in the workplace, you’ll be able to make a better decision.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remains an innovative, transformative organization providing engineering solutions to customers worldwide. To find out more about careers with USACE please visit: https://www.usace.army.mil/Careers/.