#IAMAFCE: Meet Rebecca Gutierrez

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(Editor's Note: Engineers Week is this month and we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight member of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center team doing great things for the Air Force and civil engineering community.)

Meet Rebecca Gutierrez, a general engineer and military construction programmer, Air Force Civil Engineer Center Planning and Integration Directorate, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

What are your main responsibilities? 
As a military construction program manager and engineer, I support the build of the annual MILCON Program and associated Future Year Defense Plan, publication of the annual MILCON business rules and provide MILCON data validation and programming support that feeds the MILCON Working Group’s annual project prioritization. I also provide subject matter and programming expertise to Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and the Air Force District of Washington.

What is the best thing about your job? 
Knowing that the day-to-day work our team does supports the Air Force mission. Also, the people I meet along the way are a huge plus! Having the chance to work and build relationships with both military and civilians across the globe is pretty amazing. 

As a child, what job did you want to have when you grew up? 
I wanted to be an architect. My dad worked for a landscape architect company and I was always amazed at how he could transform a design into real life. I also loved sketching on the drafting board using the T-square and drafting pencils, always associating that with being an architect. 

What made you pursue engineering as a career?  
I love math and science. Starting college, I was unsure which degree plan I should follow. A year later, I took a full career assessment that suggested I pursue an engineering-related path. I enrolled in a drafting and engineering introduction course at the local college to test the water. It was then that I knew engineering was what interested me and transferred to the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University Kingsville.

What is your favorite part about being an Air Force CE?  
Knowing that the work I put in supports the overall Air Force mission. At every level of the CE field — from base level to higher headquarters — we support the daily work of those downrange to keep installations functioning and aircraft flying. 

Why is your job important to the Air Force mission?  
Our team provides data and support to higher Air Staff and Congress, ultimately resulting in the annual President’s Budget approval for MILCON dollars. Our team helps validate new construction requests and ensures that the requirements requested and postured in the FYDP are in line with the Air Force mission and National Defense Authorization Act. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the engineering field? 
Don’t let the unknown intimidate you. As engineers, we are trained to think analytically. First and foremost, know that part of being successful at what you do is not just in knowing the answer, but also in how you get the answer. The process you use to get to a solution is just as important as the solution itself. In my experience dealing with something new, I know I can figure out how to get the answer, and the best part is you learn something new in the process. 

What motivates and inspires you the most?  
Working through challenges as a team. I find it motivating to be able to contribute your own strengths and skills as part of a team, working toward the same goal. It also gives the opportunity to use each other’s skills and see other perspectives as you work toward the end result. 

If there was one engineering marvel or achievement that you could have been a part of, what would that have been and why?
The Golden Gate Bridge. Knowing the challenges faced with designing that bridge, and still managing to complete it under budget and ahead of schedule is incredible. You hear about it, but seeing it in person, really puts into perspective the magnitude of design and construction that went into it.