By David VergunFebruary 23, 2018
WASHINGTON -- Recently-retired Col. John Henderson, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Omaha District, was named the 2018 Federal Engineer of the Year during a ceremony Friday in Washington, D.C.
The Federal Engineer of the Year Award honors engineers employed by a federal agency that employs at least 50 engineers worldwide.
Henderson served as commander and district engineer of the Omaha District of the USACE from July 2015 until his retirement from the Army in November. He served in uniform for nearly 24 years.
The recently-retired Soldier said an emphasis on the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is critical to the future of both the Army and the United States.
"A STEM education is key to the continued strategic success and survival of our nation," Henderson said.
As commander of the Omaha District of the USACE, Henderson oversaw an annual program of more than $1 billion spread over 1,200 military construction projects in eight states, civil works projects in nine states, and environmental restoration projects in 41 states.
Henderson said he credits Army engineers around the world for doing great work such as clearing IED-infested routes in combat zones to ensure safe passage for others, and also for building bridges, locks and dams -- an example of the latter being the restoration of the Mosul Dam in Iraq.
Henderson was among six engineers from the U.S. Army, each winners within their respective agencies, who competed to be named Federal Engineer of the Year Award.
Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Army chief of engineers and commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said he was proud of all Army engineers who competed to be named the 2018 Federal Engineer of the Year.
"I'm immensely proud of all of the USACE winners who were recognized in this year's event," Semonite said. "These individuals, and their teams, set the bar very high for our workforce and form the cornerstone for USACE in our focused efforts to be a world-class organization."
Among the agency winners were Rick Poeppelman, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Sacramento District, who credited members of his team for successful projects including construction of the $900 million Folsom Dam Joint Federal Project in California, which was completed in 2017 and took approximately 12 years to plan, design and construct.
This auxiliary dam and spillway more than tripled the level of flood risk reduction for the 1 million plus residents in the city of Sacramento, he said.
Another project, the $650 million Isabella Dam Safety Modification project, also in California, was completed in 2017. That project remediates the dam and spillway to prevent dam failure due to large flood events and seismic events, protecting the 400,000 residents in the city of Bakersfield, he said.
Melissa Mullen, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Mississippi Valley Division, said she won her award because "I have had the extreme good fortune to work on excellent national teams like the Levee Risk Communication Team and the Levee Inspection Training Development Team. These teams are doing important work and are staffed by talented and supportive people who help me succeed."
Adding to that, she said she also worked with the Mississippi Valley Division District Levee Safety program managers, who she credited with being "a group of smart, dedicated people who make my job easy and always make me look good. In short, I won this award because I am surrounded by talented, supportive, and hardworking people."
Other agency award winners from the Army include Patrick Wheeler, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Seattle District; David Kiefer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Louisville District; and Ryan Owen Buckalew, of U.S. Army Europe.