WASHINGTON – Lt. John Parada, production officer, is representing Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington for Engineers Week. He serves at Public Works Department Annapolis, which supports the United States Naval Academy, Naval Support Activity Annapolis, and Naval Research Laboratory Chesapeake Bay Detachment.
Lt. Parada hails from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and grew up in a Navy family. His grandfather, Joseph Parada, was a plank owner on the USS Paricutin AE-18, commissioned in 1945. His father, John Charles Parada, enlisted in 1976 and served on active duty for four years. He later joined Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 21 in the reserves in 1990. While attached to NMCB 21 as a Seabee, he was promoted to Chief (SWC) in 1998.
“I’ve known the song of the Seabees since my father’s chief induction,” Said Lt. Parada. “Something about the Seabees has intrigued me since.”
Despite that intrigue, Lt. Parada did not join the Navy coming out of high school. However, he did develop the engineering bug as a child. He always had a knack for math and science and was fascinated by how large structures like bridges were built. As he approached graduation, he consulted with mentors, including his physics teacher at Elmer L. Meyers High School, Mr. Robert Osmanski.
“He was a registered professional engineer and spoke to me about the realm of possibilities. I took all this information into consideration, along with the joy of construction work I had from working on projects at my house and decided that civil engineering was the right place for me. I have never looked back and am 100% confident this is where I belong.”
Lt. Parada was accepted to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As a college student, he worked for a major energy company, and though he thoroughly enjoyed his work, was worried his career might stagnate working for a large private enterprise. As fate would have it, he stumbled upon the U.S. Navy Civil Engineering Corps at a college career fair.
“I sat and spoke with the recruiter, and after some research, I decided this was the path for me. The biggest draw was the Seabees. I appreciate their mission and was excited to share our construction knowledge with foreign countries and support our warfighters on the front line.”
Lt. Parada has served in his current role at NAVFAC Washington for nearly three years. He manages all base support contracts serving the United States Naval Academy, Naval Support Activity Annapolis and Naval Research Lab Chesapeake Bay Detachment. This involves 11 different contracts valued at approximately $42 million dollars per year.
“NAVFAC Washington has a significantly different mission set than most other NAVFAC areas of responsibility. Here we are focused more on the research and training side of the Navy. Working here has given me a chance to broaden my impact ability. I may not be directly teaching students or performing research on the next high-tech weapons system, but I am responsible for ensuring these people and technologies have the space to grow and be developed.”
That type of development and responsibility is what Lt. Parada desired all along from a career in engineering. He also stresses that there are many opportunities for a wider array of students to access engineering. One does not need to be just a STEM wizard to be a good engineer.
“I think engineering gets a bad name due to the math and science behind the theory, however, the best engineers I know are down to earth and use common sense. The simplest thing is often the best idea, and all too often this gets overlooked. I believe engineering is a field that provides unlimited possibilities. An engineering degree opens all doors; technical, hands on, management, you name it, you can transition into it using engineering.”