Lt. Timothy Horton, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington assistant public works officer at the Washington Navy Yard, was selected as the 2023 Most Promising Engineer in Government by the Career Communications Group's U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine, the Council of Engineering Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“For a young man from a small country in Africa to be awarded the Most Promising Engineer in Government nationwide is a big deal,” said the Freetown, Sierra Leone native. “It means a lot to me. Only in the United States is this ever possible.”
Horton graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone and a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from California State University Los Angeles. After graduation, he worked for Sierra Rutile Mining Company as a mechanical maintenance and planning engineer and as an instructor taught engineering topics for six months.
Horton began his Navy career as an enlisted gas turbine system technician aboard the USS Anzio in September 2011. In October 2013, Horton reported to Officer Candidate School in Newport, R. I., where he received his commission as a civil engineer corps officer in January 2014.
During his career, he actively engaged in communities, promoting STEM programs. In 2018, he taught math to 25 school-aged children on a weekly basis during his military deployment to Micronesia.
Joining the NAVFAC Washington team in June 2021, he began excelling in a highly resource-constrained environment by doing more with less and managing expectations of the customers.
Horton oversees the lifecycle facilities management of the oldest United States Navy installation, supporting 18,000 military, civilian, and contractor personnel on 75 acres of land with 4.6 million square feet of facility space. He is responsible for the reliability of 130 facilities totaling $2.3 billion in plant replacement value and whose average building age is 96 years old.
“My work philosophy is to accomplish work tasks with speed and agility. I work with my team to execute assigned and implied tasks on time and quickly communicate risk up the chain of command. We work collaboratively to remove road blocks and streamline our processes. We ensure every task has an owner and a realistic due date.”
Horton applies this work philosophy as he manages the planning, design, contracting, construction, operations and maintenance, and disposal on a myriad of products and services: engineering, emergency response, land, buildings, utilities, structures, transportation, and environmental.
Horton enjoys his job because it provides him an opportunity to work with talented individuals.
“I work to harness the team’s strength and motivate them to support each other on areas of improvement.”
With that strength, Horton and the team successfully completed a $45 million renovation of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Naval History and Research Center on the Washington Navy Yard. This was one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken to preserve the Navy’s history.
Horton has attained many professional and technical achievements. He holds a professional engineering license in the State of California. He also obtained certifications normally reserved for more senior personnel: Project Management Professional, Joint Professional Military Education Level I, Department of Defense Contracting Certification and Public Works Level II Certification. Horton is a qualified Seabee Combat Warfare Officer. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Society of American Military Engineers. He was recently selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander.
His career goals are to become a Facilities Engineering Command commanding officer and go as high as possible in his military career.
“When I set out to pursue a career in engineering, I never thought of getting an award. I just kept learning, sharing knowledge, working hard and having fun doing what I enjoyed doing.”
There are three important people in his life who have encouraged him along the way. He credits his wife, Aina, for his successful Naval career due to her many sacrifices, his mom, Cecilia Driscoll, and sister, Michelle Horton.
His advice to anyone interested in the engineering career field is to work on their soft skills and understand the big picture.
“Always communicate up, down and across the chain of command. Build working relationships and rapport with others long before you need their help and support. The engineering part is relatively easier.”
Horton will accept the 2023 Most Promising Engineer in Government award at during the 37th annual BEYA STEM Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland, which will be held Feb. 9-11, 2023.