JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast Commanding Officer Capt. Mike Monreal announced his selections for the 2020 Military and Civilian Engineer of the Year, Oct 1.
Lt. Cmdr. Christopher McDowell, public works officer for Naval Support Activity (NSA) Panama City was selected as the NAVFAC Southeast Military Engineer of the Year, and Michael Hermanson, NAVFAC Southeast project manager was selected as the NAVFAC Southeast Civilian Engineer of the Year.
“Lt. Cmdr. McDowell and Mr. Hermanson are prime examples of the high level of engineering expertise for both military and civilian personnel in our command,” said Monreal. “These awards recognize their exceptional achievements in providing infrastructure readiness and resilience in support to the fleet.”
Award winners are selected based on their achievements and innovation in engineering over the past year. Additionally, their education, professional registration, continuing education achievements, professional and technical society activities, awards or honors, and civic and humanitarian activities are also considered.
As NSA Panama City’s Public Works Officer, McDowell efficiently led his team in the safe, timely and quality execution of $35 million in construction and $41 million of maintenance support to the base, tenant commands and their missions.
In October 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated Panama City damaging or destroying 200 of 368 NSA Panama City facilities totaling $186 million in damages. McDowell flawlessly balanced and afforded his team the opportunity to address their personal emergencies while returning the base to full mission capability.
“I am extremely grateful to be nominated and selected for the Military Engineer of the Year,” said McDowell. “I see this award as recognition of the hard work that my department has put in over the last year. I am thankful to have a team of dedicated military officers and government service civilians that time after time provide solutions to the Navy’s complex facility and infrastructure requirements.”
Receiving the Civilian Engineer of the Year award is NAVFAC Southeast Project Manager Michael Hermanson.
Hermanson’s leadership led to awarding the largest Energy-Saving Performance Contract (ESPC) for the Department of Defense this year. The ESPC is a $828.8 million capital investment in efficient 20-megawatt (MW) prime power production, 12 MW photovoltaic arrays, energy conservation measures, and refrigeration and air conditioning equipment efficiency improvements at a remote overseas base.
Hermanson explained how instrumental the PWD Guantanamo Bay team was in providing the required ground-level support to make the project a success, along with the Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center’s program expertise and acquisition support to ensure the team met all ESPC requirements.
“It’s a great honor and humbling to be selected as Engineer of the Year,” said Hermanson. “During my time here at NAVFAC Southeast, I have worked alongside many amazing engineers, who accomplish incredible things enabling Warfighter readiness. This was truly a team effort involving many exceptional team members and multiple echelons of support.”
McDowell and Hermanson shared their advice for aspiring engineers.
“Never turn down an opportunity to lead a team or project,” said McDowell. “Engineers are great problem solvers but tend to stay away from leadership or management opportunities.”
Mcdowell also added, “Part of your professional development should be focused on developing good leadership and communication skills. Strong leadership and communication skills are what enables the technical expertise of an engineer to solve the most complicated problems.”
Hermanson stated that communication and collaboration skills go a long way when leading a project team. They become increasingly important as engineers ascend into leadership positions.
“Embrace the challenge”, said Hermanson. “Many projects present unfamiliar or new challenges. Face these challenges head-on rather than avoiding them, knowing that it’s alright to take risks and make mistakes.”
NAVFAC Headquarters selects a civilian and military engineer of the year from the award winners of each regional NAVFAC command. These two individuals are then nominated as the NAVFAC candidates for the prestigious National Society of Professional Engineers Federal Engineer of the Year award.
Both engineers have proven to be truly among the elite in the Navy and the federal government and will now compete for the NAVFAC Headquarters Engineer of the Year award.