Simple comment leads to royal education, career growth, experience

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  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- It started with the simple comment, “I wish I could go,” and ended with career growth and life experiences. 

Scott Ensign, Air Force GeoBase Program manager and Air Force Civil Engineer Center Geo Integration officer, recently returned from a unique professional development opportunity with the Royal School of Military Survey in the United Kingdom. We asked him to tell us what he learned and why professional education for civilian employees is so important. 

How long have you been a federal employee? 
More than 10 years as a civilian employee and active-duty Air Force in 3E5 engineering from April 1990 - April 2010. 

How long have you been with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center? 
Since 2012, coinciding with the establishment of the AFCEC Planning and Integration Directorate. Before my current assignment, I served with the Air Force Real Property Agency.

How were you selected for the Royal School of Military Survey course?
I first heard of this prestigious course when asked to review the package of an Air Force Civil Engineer captain competing for selection. I mentioned my interest in attending when it was made known that the course is open to both officers and DoD civilians, and was encouraged to compete. Soon thereafter, I spoke with my leadership team who wholeheartedly supported competing for selection to attend during the 2019-2020 academic year. The AFCEC Commander Brig. Gen. John Allen, then the Air Force Civil Engineer, provided my formal nomination to the joint selection team.

Tell us about it?
This 14-month Geospatial-Intelligence Masters’ Degree producing course is hosted at Denison Barracks in Hermitage, Berkshire, England.  My peers included members of the British military, U.S. Army and Canadian Army. Course work included geospatial science, spatial analysis, imagery exploitation and culminating with an individual project merging lessons learned and applying them to a practical problem set. This program was very informative, adding to professional experience and knowledge garnered over 24 years of working with related data, processes and tools. 

What was the most important thing you walked away with?
Learning about and working with British forces provided unique perspectives on how to approach different missions. Although I have worked with them before, it was never this close or for this long of a period. The program increased my knowledge base related to exploitation of remote sensing capabilities including aerial and satellite imagery across many spectrums of light, microwave-sensed data, and their seemingly endless uses. More importantly, the knowledge gained is being applied to Combat Support Geospatial Information and Services offered by the Air Force GeoBase Program.

Professional education is emphasized for military members. How important is professional education for civilian employees?
The Civil Engineer’s Human Capital Roadmap places a premium on strengthening and sustaining CE’s most precious resource, Airmen engineers.  This includes continued education of Air Force civilians like me.  To meet demands and challenges of current and future operating environments, it is essential that civilians continue to educate themselves not only in their specific functional area but also expand and dabble in other related areas of expertise. This helps the individual and organization take full advantage of the capabilities available by preparing you to take on increasingly challenging tasks, lead and make informed recommendations and decisions for yourself, your subordinates and teammates, and the Air Force.

At what point did you incorporate professional education in to your civilian career goals?
Continued education has been a goal since I joined the Air Force as an Airman in 1990.  Although it has always been part of my career goals, it often took the backburner to family and missions impacted by world events. In 2017 I began to focus on completing my bachelor’s degree in geography, with the intent to pursue a master’s degree in a related field. This opportunity accelerated my efforts to achieve my goal.

Has mentorship played a role in your career?
Agile, Innovative, and Ready Airmen Engineers are created, not born.  Each of us is a unique product of professional mentorship received from leaders, peers and subordinates. I have been, and continue to be, blessed by great mentors who help me focus on the right things, told me the truth no matter how hard it was to swallow, and assisted me in shaping a viable path to achieve my goals.

Any tips for your fellow civilian employees when it comes to their career growth?
Set goals, then take small step to achieve them to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Goals are like eating an elephant, take one bite at a time, and no matter how big they are, they are achievable.  A great place for those just starting to develop a continuing education plan is the Air Force’s Digital University ( that has over 12,000 courses for free.  There is no better time than now to select your vector and take action, one step at a time.

(Editor’s Note: Mentorship and professional development are key aspects of our strategic lines of effort of: Increase Lethality & Readiness, Strengthen Airmen and Families, and Pursue Organizational Excellence. The United States has a memorandum of understanding for four seats in the Royal School of Military Survey course. For more information on this course, contact Ensign at DSN 945-2705 or 210-925-2705)