By Frank Whitman, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Public Affairs Office
SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Military service is part of a proud tradition for the family of Lt. Cmdr. Ning L. Yuan, a Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) Officer with Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas.
While many of her family members have served or are serving in the armed forces of her native Taiwan, joining the U.S. Navy 18 years ago was considered a viable option for Yuan as she hoped to make the best use of her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Buffalo.
Yuan planned to join the Seabees as an enlisted Sailor. “I had completed an internship and felt there was a tremendous gap between the academic environment and the real world,” she said. “I thought the Seabees were cool. All the humanitarian work the Seabees do seemed really glamorous.” Instead, Yuan was commissioned into the Civil Engineer Corps, and has found that she thrives on the challenges of a Navy career.
Today Yuan serves as Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Division (FEAD) officer – a long way, she said, from the ensign who began her naval career in 2001.
“I realized the Navy offers the best bridge between academic and the real working environment. I don’t know of any corporation that provides as much training to the junior officers, letting us manage and be accountable for multimillion-dollar projects. This is the best platform to bridge that gap.”
She is impressed with the work ethic of the NAVFAC Marianas FEAD team, referring to them as the hardest working group she has ever come across. “The work here is the toughest I’ve ever had,” she said. “Every single civilian that works here is a dedicated professional who cares tremendously about mission accomplishment. I have never had an office like this.”
Yuan’s first assignment was to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74 in Gulfport, Mississippi. In 2003, she reported to Naval District Washington and served as Activity Public Works Officer at Naval Air Facility Washington, Andrews Air Force Base. In 2007, after volunteering for an individual augmentation assignment she served as Afghan National Police construction program manager. Other assignments have included tours at Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; Okinawa, Japan; and just prior to reporting to Guam in July 2018, she served as officer in charge of construction at Travis Air Force Base, California. She also earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012.
“With every job I learned a lot; every single tour is challenging,” Yuan said. “Every time I thought, ‘I’ve got this nailed down; I will be sailing through the next job.’ Then the next job is more difficult. But that’s what I like most about the Navy - the challenges, the endless learning opportunities and improvement.”
In observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Yuan reflected on the theme “Unite Our Mission by Engaging Each Other.” “In engaging with Asians, the communication style is very important,” she said. “If you respond with respect for the person you are communicating with, it will keep the dialogue open and bring you a long way toward accomplishing the mission.”