News: NAVFAC’s (SW) 2013 Engineer of the Year Goes to Yuma
Story by Lance Cpl. Uriel Avendano
“Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.” - Theodore von Kármán
YUMA, Ariz. - Engineering Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s future, from below the ground up, takes a certain type of ingenuity. In a field where exceptional technical know-how and collaborative wherewithal meet, only a select few are nominated for the distinction of being Navy Facilities’ (Southwest) Engineer of the Year.
Yuma-based and 17-year Navy Lt. Cmdr. Angelique McBee, MCAS Yuma’s resident officer-in-charge of construction and a native of Jonesboro, Ark., was awarded the NAVFAC (SW) 2013 Engineer of the Year award at a ceremony in San Diego, Calif., on Dec. 19.
“I’m very honored to be selected,” said McBee. “The award has my name on it, but it’s really due to all of the hard work my guys have done here in the office that we’re being recognized.”
As a daughter to a retired Navy petty officer electronics technician, McBee remembers her very early childhood being raised across military bases on the East coast. However, by the time she was in elementary school, her father had gotten out of the Navy and eventually settled the family down in a suburb of Virginia Beach. Regular house, elementary school, nothing special.
All of the males on both sides of McBee’s family served in the military. She is the first female military service member on either tree.
“My Dad served in Vietnam, my grandparents were in Korea and World War II. And my great grandfathers were both in World War I,” said McBee. “All in the Navy.”
Although first considering enlisting in the Marine Corps, McBee decided to enroll at Arkansas State University. She worked nights and paid her way through school, but ultimately decided to go back home to reassess her future.
“After that one semester, I came back home and, with a friend I knew from high school, joined the Navy,” said McBee.
Initially, McBee looked into radio and computer communications. It wasn’t until she took the armed services vocational aptitude battery test that McBee was advised to take the nuclear field qualification test, which she would also pass.
As an enlisted nuclear field electricians mate, McBee moved her career forward through her respective a-school and power school training. A stint as an instructor in Charleston, S.C., found her kicking knowledge at nuclear prototype school with unit 626. From there, McBee applied and was accepted into the Navy enlisted commissioning program.
In 1999, McBee enrolled at Auburn University and earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering in three years.
“I always liked civil engineering. I did a couple of technical classes on architecture stuff in high school,” said McBee. “Building things is my version of instant gratification.”
Civil engineering covers everything, from environmental ground water flow, storm water flow, water treatment plants to structural engineering, which evaluates buildings and infrastructure. Geotechnical engineering, where soil is evaluated for load-bearing capacity during construction, also plays a part.
“Design, mass transit, community planning, utilities upgrades. We do all of the buildings, child day care centers, and the new joint strike fighter hangars,” said McBee. “There’s been a lot of time and sacrifice spent on making these projects work.”
And with that hard work comes the well earned recognition and respect from the Navy engineering arena.
The NAVFAC’s (SW) Engineer of the Year award distinguishes those who have consistently performed in the field with exceptional skill, distinguished leadership and utmost professionalism. However, McBee is quick to point out the group effort it takes to have all of the intricate moving parts accomplish the mission at hand.
“Everything requires teamwork. A true team is a partnership – Between all of the various members here on base, our contractors and our construction office,” said McBee. “Everybody has to have trust that you’re telling them the straight truth and that their opinions are valued.”
Team members are not limited to just the ROICC office. In San Diego, McBee adds, there’s a design manager who’s in charge of a team that reviews an outside firms’ plans. For projects, like the new Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 hangar, credit can also be attributed to support staff at MCAS Yuma’s installation and logistics department, telecommunications, the on-base site activation task force and the much appreciated support from the MCAS Yuma station Commanding Officer, Col. Robert Kuckuk.
A lot of moving parts go into engineering the future of Yuma, making it necessary to have personable, intelligent and straight-shooting leaders at the helm.
“She’s got the ability to see a problem from all angles and then provide direction for it. She doesn’t put up with a lot of guff either, in terms of coming to a solution, communicating it and then following through,” said Doy Crouch, MCAS Yuma’s supervisory architect for the ROICC office and a native Shafter, Calif. “This award, I think, is one long overdue for her in-put and contribution to the success we’ve had. In my own personal opinion, this office stands out among the rest of the ROICC’s and field offices in the division.”
On any given month, the ROICC team in Yuma has over 24 projects going on. Some as small as a couple of hundred thousand dollars, others well into the millions. Some as small as renovations to existing buildings, others as big as the new home of the world’s first F-35B joint strike fighter squadron.
“There’s been a lot of personal time and long hours put in by our civilian and military team members. There are also families who supported the loss of that personal time,” said McBee, who’s been married to her husband Aaron McBee for nine years and is a mother of two boys, Sean and Connor. “All to make these projects work.”
Working on our tomorrow begins in the eyes and minds of those who engineer it. The NAVFAC distinction, while a formal individual acknowledgement, is more of a representation of the collaborative effort it took to get here. An award McBee is honored to accept, but more honored to share.