It’s not often you hear someone say, “I have a passion for deploying on emergency management debris missions.” Meet Chad Braun.
In addition to working as a senior project engineer and civil engineer for the Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Braun has been a quality assurance representative, team leader, supervisor and subject matter expert, providing QA oversight and technical assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for projects to remove and dispose of debris after a natural disaster.
“My main role on these missions is to ensure that the debris removal and disposal is being performed in accordance with FEMA guidelines,” said Braun, who has twice been honored for his efforts. “This entails extensive coordination with contractors, local government officials, monitoring firms, homeowners and FEMA representatives. It’s rewarding work: the team is executing the mission so that the affected people and communities can start to rebuild and move forward with recovery.”
Describe what you do and why it’s important to the Army or the war fighter. What’s the greatest satisfaction you have in being a part of the Army acquisition workforce?
“I’m a senior project engineer at the USACE Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville. I am a contracting officer’s representative for designated projects, and I maintain an administrative contracting officer’s warrant. I’m an ordering officer for the Defense Logistics Agency Fuels Program, which is administered by Huntsville Center. DLA Fuels provides maintenance inspections, repairs and emergency response actions for DLA petroleum facilities at Army and Installation Management Command installations worldwide. I also provide project management support for several programs throughout the center. I’m a member of the Emergency Operations Temporary Housing Planning and Response Team, and I support the Debris PRT as a subject matter expert. Seeing the products being constructed in the field is very gratifying: Whether it’s an airplane hangar being upgraded, office buildings being renovated or even a fuel pump being maintained, it is exciting to know that I take a part in providing the services that keep our military services in operation.”
How did you become part of the Army acquisition workforce, and why?
“In 2008, I accepted a position as a project engineer at a USACE Resident Office at Center Hill Dam in Tennessee, a high-profile dam safety project that required contracting experience and required me to be Level II certified within two years. I ended up being the team leader for the contract administration group; it was a challenging yet rewarding project. The main scope of work associated with this project was remediating the dam’s foundation, which was accomplished by grouting the foundation and placing a concrete barrier wall more than 300 feet below the ground surface. When the work is underground, you rely on data collected to define your success and can’t actually see the work underground as you typically do when involved in military construction projects. But the challenges are far outweighed by the rewards. Knowing that the dam was repaired successfully and the work the team did to provide a safe place for the public to access and enjoy the outdoors is very rewarding.”
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to a career similar to yours? “When provided an opportunity to do something outside your normal day-to-day duties, take advantage of it. You never know when or if the opportunity will be available again. Some of the most important steps are to stay on track with training requirements so you can obtain the relevant certifications and licenses. Take advantage of leadership development, developmental assignments and deployment opportunities as they might lead to new and exciting career opportunities.”
When did you become a licensed professional civil engineer? How does that certification help you do your job better?
“I became a licensed professional civil engineer in 2011. To become licensed, engineers must complete a four-year college degree, work under a professional engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. Then, to retain their licenses, PEs must continually maintain and improve their skills throughout their careers. As a PE, I continue to learn and develop my understanding of the engineering community and developing technologies through all the continuing education programs. It allows me to pass on the knowledge that I have learned to the future generation and helps them to be eligible to apply to be a professional engineer.”
If you could break the rules – or make the rules – what would you change about contracting and acquisition?
“I would allow administrative contracting officers to be delegated authority on service contracts. Our current policies are to only have ACOs delegated to construction contracts. I believe this would help improve the administration of government contracts, which would lead to safer projects with better quality. I would also change the rules to allow civil engineers (Series 0810) to earn Level III certification in contracting. Current policy prevents us from doing so.”
Editor’s note: “Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army acquisition workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines.