WASHINGTON - Johnny Alam, construction manager, is representing the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington team working at Joint Base Andrews for National Engineers Week.
Alam is a contractor who has been assigned to the Executive Airlift Hangar Complex project, one of the highest visibility construction projects in the National Capital Region. Previously, he has worked around the world for the State Department on important projects, including for the American embassies in China and Kyrgyzstan. He also worked for the FBI at Headquarters and at Quantico, and for the Department of Defense in Iwakuni, Japan, and Pyeongtek, South Korea.
As a younger man, he served in the U.S. Navy on active duty from 1988 to 1992 and was stationed at former Naval Air Station South Weymouth.
“My family immigrated here from Bangladesh,” Alam said. “Growing up, I witnessed generosity in this country, from both neighbors as well as strangers. I was fortunate to have experienced the ideals and opportunities, that the United States had to offer. When I came of age, I felt the need to give back, as well as defend the ideals that my family and I now enjoy.”
Alam’s family settled in Pittsburgh, Pa., where his father worked as a civil engineer. Alam grew up dismantling his father’s AV equipment and tools, which sparked love of the sciences. Eventually he would accompany his father to work and his interest turned more toward engineering.
“As I got older, some of my side jobs were with different trades, from surveying to pouring concrete. I loved them all. I would often watch the progress of a project and wonder why there was rebar, why was some parts of the concrete thicker than others, what will this finished structure look like, or be used for.”
Alam began his engineering studies at Penn State University. After two years, he took time off from school, but returned to complete his civil engineering degree at Isra University, in Amman, Jordan.
“In college, I started as an Aerospace Engineering major, but quickly found my interests were in civil engineering. Ironically, of my four siblings, three are civil engineers and one is an architectural engineer. Every family has a black sheep.”
Hard work is absolutely required to earn a degree in engineering, Alam says, but there is always demand for individuals who can assess a problem and present solutions. Engineering is also a great field for people with a variety of dispositions.
“If you like puzzles and solving problems, then you will enjoy all types of engineering. If you like being outdoors and getting your hands dirty, parts of civil engineering could be for you. If you intend on hunkering down and staying in one place, you can get a job with a great company and stay there for the duration of your career. If you like to travel, international opportunities, as well opportunities within the United States, can have you on the move.”
Alam notes that an engineering degree is a great investment and can even launch one into other career fields.
“An engineering degree showcases to the world one’s determination and resourcefulness. These are coveted attributes in the work force. If you are not happy in engineering with an engineering degree, you could get your foot in the door of other opportunities. I have personally seen colleagues successfully transition from engineering to sales, medicine, law, and other careers.”
Alam is grateful for the many great teachers and supervisors he has had throughout his life. He is especially thankful for the support of his wife, Eunjoo, his mother, Dilara, and his father, Dr. Shah Alam.
“I hope everyone is blessed enough to have a great support group. And I also hope this will inspire individuals to consider any of the many different engineering and engineering related fields.”