By Mr. David G Killam (USACE)February 13, 2009
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (February 10, 2009) -- Area Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District's construction operations division, Larry Smith, will receive the 2009 Construction Management Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Smith is the 23rd person to receive the award since 1974.
In the award notification, ACSE Executive Director Patrick Natale cited Smith for his "outstanding leadership and innovative management of the construction of significant major infrastructure projects, his mentoring of future construction management leaders and his many contributions to the construction management body of knowledge."
"Larry Smith exemplifies what it means to be a professional engineer," said U.S. Army Col. Tom Chapman, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. "Understanding the need to mentor a new generation of engineers is one thing, but to actually do it is extraordinary," Chapman added. "We are very lucky to have someone like Mr. Smith in our District and many of our young engineers will remember him long into the future. The District will continue to reap the benefits of his experience long after he leaves government service."
Smith has received many other professional awards, including: 2007 Government Civil Engineer of the Year, National Society of Professional Engineers Federal Engineer of the Year 2006, 2008 Construction Management Association of America Chairman's Award, 2005 U.S. Air Force Construction Manager of the Year Award, and U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command Project Manager of the Year for 2005 and 2006.
Smith started with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1974 at the Utah Resident Office, and has worked at New Melones Dam, Fort Lewis, the Sierra Army Depot, the Sacramento Resident Office, and most recently at the Folsom Resident Office. He holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in civil engineering from the University of Utah.
Currently, he is working on a re-design of the spillway at the Folsom Dam.
"Once the spillway is completed, it will give the Bureau of Reclamation, the operators of the dam, more flexibility in managing water levels at the dam and responding to flood events," Smith says. "The project will also provide a little more flood protection to the city of Sacramento."
Smith is also close to completing work on the Folsom Bridge, which will provide welcome traffic-congestion relief to the city of Folsom, Calif. Congress directed the project when a road over the Folsom Dam, a major throughway, was closed for security reasons. Construction is nearing completion in record time.
"Civil engineers play a critical role in the national effort to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure," Smith says. "Here in the Sacramento District, we are committed to upgrading and repairing the various flood control mechanisms that exist throughout the greater Central Valley. But in terms of the larger picture, there are all kinds of critical projects that need to be done. We need to mentor and foster development of young engineers who can roll up their sleeves and make positive changes for the safety of the people in this country," he adds.
Developing leader engineers is one our nation's most important tasks: something with which the Army Corps of Engineers is well-equipped to help, says Smith.
"One of our most difficult challenges is the recruitment and professional development of a work force that is facing a growing construction program," he says. "Even in the current downturn, there's a lot of competition for beginning engineers. We have to find ways to challenge new engineers. It's not just about money. We have to make young engineers understand that there are unique opportunities with the Corps of Engineers that will not be available in other forms of employment."
Membership in professional organizations is also essential to professional development, he says. "It not only helps to develop career opportunities, it also helps young engineers to experience mentoring from a variety of sources - government and non-government. ASCE is typical of the type of organization that can be a powerful resource for any engineer."
Smith is also passionate about community involvement. He recently retired as fire captain in his town of Rescue, Calif., and says that community involvement can help engineers develop as leaders, as can continuing education.
"You have to involve yourself in constant learning," he says. "Whether it's college courses or professional-level courses offered by the Corps of Engineers, it's extremely important that you take advantage of what's available," he says. "Also, get involved in your profession. Join professional societies, get yourself professionally registered and obtain professional certifications. You'd be surprised at how many positions in the Corps of Engineers and elsewhere require professional registration. The time to obtain that certification is long before you decide to apply for the position. Challenge yourself!"
While there are significant challenges ahead for America's engineers, Smith says, it's also an exciting time to belong to the profession.
"Even though we're currently in an economic downturn, new infrastructure repair money may be available, and it is our responsibility to make it possible for effective use of this money," he says. "It's a one-time opportunity, and we need to make it happen."