WASHINGTON – William Cruz-Montes, environmental engineer and drinking and wastewater program director, is representing Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington for Engineers Week. He serves Naval Support Activity (NSA) Washington in Washington D.C.
Cruz-Montes began serving as a civilian in the U.S. Navy as an intern with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) under the Naval Acquisition Development Program. After working with several teams within NAVSEA, he moved to NAVFAC where he supported the Overseas, Regional and Installation Drinking Water Programs at NAVFAC HQ, NAVFAC Washington, and Public Works Department Washington, respectively. In July 2018, after serving as an intern for six months, he was offered a permanent position. He currently oversees and ensure that six installations under NSA Washington maintain environmental compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.
“I always knew I wanted a future in the environmental field while pursuing a meaningful career that would allow me to really make a difference in the way we treat and take care of our environment,” Cruz-Montes said. “When I joined the Navy in 2016, I realized the enormous impact that our mission has in our environment and all the amazing things the Navy does to reduce and mitigate our environmental impact.”
Cruz-Montes grew up in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and his mother worked as a cashier in a supermarket right next to the campus of the University of Puerto Rico. His mother would talk to him about all the amazing young people from around the Island and around the world that were pursuing all different kinds of degrees.
“She would talk about all the struggles and sacrifices that these brilliant students would face every day, especially those that come from hard working families, like mine. She would always say, ‘It does not matter what school do you want to go to or what kind of degree you want to pursue, the important thing is that you become a person who is proud of yourself. Always do what makes you happy and allow yourself to reach all the goals you have in life.’ My mother’s teaching was what made me become not only an engineer, but also a professional who feels fulfilled and unstoppable.”
Cruz-Montes graduated with bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and a master’s degree in engineering management from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. He is a great proponent of engineering, wanting to encourage the continued development of the world.
“I believe all professions and occupations are important to our society and every single one of them contribute to a better world, but I also believe that the engineer profession is essential to the future and wellbeing of the humankind. A world without engineers is a world without safe drinking water, without appropriate shelter from the elements, without essential medical devices, without a dignified way of living. That is why I encourage every single young person out there to become one and contribute at least a little to the continuous development of our society, country and civilization.”
Like his mother, Cruz-Montes’ father was a big influence on him as a young person. His father would remind him that it did not matter who he was, where he came from, what really matters is what kind of person he wants to become and to figure out how to get there.
“The day I graduated from high school, my father said to me, ‘Willy, it does not matter if you want to be an engineer or you want to be street sweeper, but you have to make sure that if you are an engineer, you are the best engineer you can be, and if you are a street sweeper, you are the best street sweeper you can be. If you want to be happy and successful, you need to be the best version of yourself and nothing less than that.’”