WASHINGTON – Jonathan Kilpatrick, fire protection engineer, serves at Naval Support Activity South Potomac, Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head, and is representing Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington for Engineers Week.
Kilpatrick was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Maryland. He served for five years at NAVFAC Southeast in Jacksonville, Fl., before returning home to the National Capital Region last summer.
“I chose to serve in NAVFAC Washington because it brought me back to my family,” Kilpatrick said. “I was starting to feel the itch to get back from Southeast before the pandemic hit, but once it did, it just solidified everything for me that I needed to be home for the day when I would have to take more and more care of my parents.”
Tony Liverman is a supervisor in the Project Management and Engineering Branch at NSF Indian Head. When he found out that Kilpatrick was interested in returning home, he successfully did everything in his power to add the talented fire protection engineer to his team. Now Kilpatrick is working on projects such as replacing an outdated fire suppression system in explosive operations building with a new ultra-high-speed deluge system.
“This is the one time that what everyone thinks about sprinklers, thanks to Hollywood, is actually somewhat correct - if one sprinkler at the ceiling goes off, they all go off.”
Speaking of Hollywood, Kilpatrick wanted to be a demolitionist growing up. He was fascinated with the idea of pressing a big red button to bring a building down for replacement. He learned that one does not get the opportunity to press a proverbial big red button often, if at all, and decided instead to focus on the craft of erecting a building and keeping it standing. He enrolled in the only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program in the nation at The University of Maryland in College Park.
“I interned in the private sector in undergrad, and even though I was paid hourly, I did not enjoy seeing how the others around me were working 60+ hour weeks with no work-life balance.”
After college, Kilpatrick took that desire for work-life balance into account and decided the benefits of working for NAVFAC were impossible to pass up. Building a solid career is not something that comes easily in engineering, he warns, but the hard work is worth it.
“If you’re naturally curious enough to wonder ‘why?’, if you are stubborn enough to not quit when all of the rest of your college friends are enjoying campus life while you are studying, and if you feel that you can make decisions in situations where there are no easy choices, then you might want to consider engineering because it comes with job satisfaction unlike any other.”