MCALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. — “We rise by lifting others,” and for MCAAP Public Works Production Engineering Division's Senior Mechanical Engineer, Duke Salinas, that sense of teamwork motivates and sharpens his daily focus and performance.
Salinas has worked here on post since 2008; first, as a mechanical engineer with the Defense Ammunition Center (DAC); then in 2012, he accepted an engineering position with MCAAP. However, his passion for engineering began decades earlier.
Salinas started working as a small engine mechanic while in high school, and in 1986, he joined the Air Force, and served as a missile electronic systems technician supporting the Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM) at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
He transitioned to the Air Force Reserve in 1992, serving as an air logistics cargo specialist with the 433rd Alamo Wing in San Antonio. Career progression led him to support airlift operations in the field of cargo-special handling, which included ‘air worthiness’ inspections of hazardous cargo.
Salinas received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1997.
“Being involved in engineering has really be a driving factor for me,” Salinas said. “The accuracy, precision and attention to detail required to ensure a quality product, requires each of us to pursue a higher level of rigorous determination and focus. Working directly in that engineering process is really my passion — that and being a part of MCAAP’s engineering and public works team.”
Salinas recently mentored an intern with MCAAP's engineering department, Clark Rodriquez, during the past summer. Rodriquez completed his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Central Florida earlier this year, and wants to pursue his master's in mechanical engineering while working as a mechanical engineer in the defense industry. Salinas served as Rodriquez's advisor for his capstone project, which he presented to Brig. Gen. Gavin Gardner, commander of the Joint Munitions Command, via video teleconference. "I believe my internship at McAlester will accelerate my career as an engineer," said Rodriquez, "and Duke has been a key factor in the whole experience."
For Salinas, making the decision to ‘be mobile’ and support work-related tasks has enable him to travel to several locations such as Germany, Japan, India, China and across the U.S. in support of our warfighters.
When not at work, Salinas participates in coaching soccer for the McAlester United Soccer Club (MACU), a travel team. “I highly encourage kids to join an athletic club like MACU to foster a team concept, work hard, and develop social skills that will be need later when it is time to join the workforce.”
Salinas also enjoys sharing and learning more about his Hispanic roots. “I embrace the best that my Hispanic roots have given me,” he said. “I enjoy sharing that energy and the passion for what I love as well as a strong sense of determination when faced with adversity or confronting an issue. I believe in never giving up, even when things get difficult and making the required decisions to get to your apparitions.”