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OICC Florence Civilian Engineer of the Year: Joel Roberts

06 November 2023

From Ashley Snipes

For Officer in Charge of Construction Florence Civilian Engineer of the Year Joel Roberts, simple decisions for over a decade have provided many unique opportunities and a rewarding career.

For Officer in Charge of Construction Florence Civilian Engineer of the Year Joel Roberts, simple decisions for over a decade have provided many unique opportunities and a rewarding career.

After five years in the Marine Corps working on communications gear as an air traffic control technician, Roberts decided to transition to civilian life in North Carolina and attend North Carolina State University. That decision was easy, because his wife is from Raleigh and they wanted to be close to family.

“I was a little undecided about what I wanted to do” said Roberts. “The engineering career field leaves your door open to a ton of opportunities.”

He knew he wanted to pursue a career in a technical field since he had been working with electronics, but liked the physical aspects of construction and engineering.

In 2008, he graduated from NC State with a bachelor of science in civil engineering and found himself back with the Marine Corps in a new capacity, planning military construction (MILCON) projects. At the time, the Facilities Planning Branch of Asset Management for MCB Camp Lejeune was operating OICC Grow the Force. In 2011, Roberts saw a construction manager (CM) position open on the NAVFAC side which later turned into OICC MCIEast (Marine Corps Installations East).

“I’ve been able to work almost every aspect of so many projects: planning MILCON projects, then CM, then project manager (PM), then moving on up the chain,” said Roberts.

In September 2018, Hurricane Florence devastated Eastern North Carolina, and the Marine Corps bases along the coast were left in shambles due in large part to the aging buildings and infrastructure. MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River required extensive renovations and reconstruction, which generated 92 Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (FSRM) projects valued at $1B, and 30 Hurricane Florence MILCON projects valued at $1.2B.

By February 2020, Roberts was deep into planning and hiring a robust staff for Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River to take on the massive portfolio. His first-hand knowledge of the bases allowed him to quickly become a valued advisor, ensuring leadership fully understood the operational picture and could forecast future manning and financial requirements.

“Working with Joel has been an invaluable experience,” said LCDR Allison Pontal, Resident Officer in Charge of Construction Florence Camp Lejeune. “His strong leadership and technical skills have consistently guided the OICC team to success. His dedication and expertise have fostered a collaborative and productive work environment, making it a pleasure to work alongside him.”

In just three years, Roberts and the ROICC Florence Camp Lejeune team have closed out 74 FSRM projects and executed $1B of work-in-place. Additionally, the ROICC executed another $437M of work-in-place in the MILCON portfolio. In 2022 alone, ROICC Florence Camp Lejeune executed $195M of work-in-place FSRM, and $247M work-in-place for MILCON, and completed 11 FSRM projects.
Pontal attributes Roberts’ strong work ethic as a driving force for the accomplishments.

“His long-standing commitment to the organization from its inception showcases his dedication and influence in shaping its success.”

Although Roberts has big numbers attached to his name, he has been successful by simple means: he always tried to seek out challenging assignments and jobs, and learn from each opportunity.

“Learn something from every step you take,” he added.

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