From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Headquarters Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) announced the winners of its 2017 Military and Civilian Engineers of the Year Awards Dec. 5.
Lt. Cmdr. Robert L. Olson from NAVFAC Pacific was selected as the Military Engineer of the Year, and John E. Baxter from NAVFAC Southeast was selected as the Civilian Engineer of the Year for 2017.
"Our NAVFAC Engineers of the Year were selected from a group of exceptional candidates, and we are truly fortunate to have extraordinary engineers who serve NAVFAC and the Navy with selfless dedication and technical superiority," said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, NAVFAC commander and chief of civil engineers. "They continue to build on our 174-year legacy of outstanding support to the Navy and Marine Corps."
Olson and Baxter will represent NAVFAC in February at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) will announce their 2017 Federal Engineer of the Year.
During a 28-month span at NAVFAC Pacific, Olson oversaw the completion or award of 113 projects with a combined value of $65 million that spanned 13 nations in southeast Asia.
One of these projects, a seven-story peacekeeping operations training center in Vietnam, required technical partnerships with Vietnamese engineers and officials, and included mutually-beneficial agreements about differing construction standards, methodology, and codes. Other projects included several in support of law enforcement efforts, such as a police training range in Bangladesh and a service-life extension of the Cambodian coast guard's only working pier.
Olson also demonstrated how engineering can improve lives in some of the world's most vulnerable regions, overseeing nine school renovations and the construction of three disaster coordination centers in the Philippines following Typhoon Pablo. He worked with government specialists in Cambodia to identify rural areas with inadequate post-partum care facilities, and helped build seven clinics which have seen decreased mortality rates for their patients since the facilities were turned over to local authorities.
As NAVFAC Southeast's Environmental Business Line Program manager, Baxter led administrative and technical staff across NAVFAC commands and business lines, as well as the Navy at large. His willingness to partner with internal and external peers and subordinates, and to train and share knowledge resulted in numerous successful team efforts, including a multi-agency oil spill response exercise which required nine months of advance planning and involved more than 200 participants from 25 organizations.
Baxter also led the activation of a regional response team as the federal on-scene coordinator during a national-level Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Exercise (NUWAIX), which greatly fostered relationships and trust with the regulatory agencies involved. Higher NAVFAC echelons, headquarters, and other Navy regions frequently reached out to him for advice and guidance about emergency response issues, and to solicit input on policy, standardization, and regulatory changes. He was also a guest speaker at various national and international conferences concerning operational response planning techniques and innovative methods for communicating during crises.