News: Fort Worth District adds third Wheeler award to its medal cache
Story by James Frisinger
FORT WORTH, Texas - In May the Society of American Military Engineers awarded Dr. Rumanda Young, Fort Worth District, the Wheeler Medal. Maj. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, deputy chief of engineers, made the presentation. Young is the third winner from Fort Worth since the Wheeler was first awarded in 1955.
She is just the second woman to ever win this national honor.
The first was Peggy Grubbs, now deputy district engineer, also from the Fort Worth District. (Brian Giacomozzi, chief of the district’s Engineering and Construction Division, won the 2008 Wheeler.)
Or is there something special about Fort Worth?
Young, Master Planning Section chief of the district’s Regional Planning and Environmental Center, won her Wheeler for using a collaborative, enterprise approach across U.S. Army Corps of Engineer divisions to develop new planning and other sustainability and assessment projects that support the Army, Air Force and Marines.
Dual-hatted as the regional energy program manager, she landed a $1.22 million Department of Defense grant to develop a new analytic tool to help cut energy consumption at military installations worldwide with pilot programs set for Fort Hood and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Such work supports the Corps’ goal of helping the Army and the Nation achieve energy security and sustainability goals – reducing energy dependence, increasing energy efficiency and adopting renewable and alternative energy sources.
“Rumanda Young’s Wheeler Medal, following in the footsteps of Peggy Grubbs and Brian Giacomozzi, is a testament to the legacy of innovation that is a hallmark of what we do here in Fort Worth,” said Col. Charles Klinge, district commander.
Giacomozzi earned the Wheeler for strategic execution of construction programs in support of Department of the Army Transformation and the Department of Homeland Security Secure Border Initiative. He contributed to the successful construction of $1 billion border protection measures along the U.S.-Mexico border. Giacomozzi was cited for innovative use of product-line delivery for large scale military installations that utilized resources across USACE that resulted in construction placement of $3 million a day.
Grubbs’ earned her Wheeler 18 years ago for leading a team that applied emerging technology to make contracting more efficient. The pilot was a $20 million dorm project at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Up to that time, mounds of paper specifications and drawings had to be printed and shipped to potential bidders competing for contracts. The team devised a new process to put the drawings and specs on CDs and online to streamline distribution. Her team, which included Denver Heath, Jim McKenzie and John Dagley, also had representatives from the Air Force, the Omaha District and the Engineering Research Development Center. The Navy was also an interested partner.
Developing the new process required educating large and small contractors alike about how to use digital technology, she said. Even some team members weren’t sure the switch was a good idea.
“But we had people who were willing to try and were not afraid of failure,” said Grubbs.
The concept proved itself, and the Fort Worth District was asked to share it across the Corps of Engineers. Delivery of contracting materials today is based on that innovation.
Grubbs said some of what makes the Fort Worth District excel is due to the variety of programs that exist here, and that helps promote idea sharing. Engineering innovation and a drive for doing things efficiently are inbred.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude. We try to find a need and fill it,” she said.
The Wheeler Medal recognizes outstanding contributions by U.S. Army personnel to military engineering in design, construction, administration, research or development. It is named for Lt. Gen. Raymond A. Wheeler, U.S. Army, deputy supreme allied commander of the South East Asia Command in World War II. He became chief of engineers in 1945.