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#IAMAFCE: Meet Catherine Jerrard

Air Force Civil Engineer Catherine Jerrard

Meet Catherine Jerrard, program manager for the Air Force Base Realignment and Closure program, Installations Directorate, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jim Martinez)

(Editor's Note: Engineers Week is this month and we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight members 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.)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Meet Catherine Jerrard, program manager for the Air Force Base Realignment and Closure program, Installations Directorate, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

What are your main responsibilities? 
As a BRAC program manager, I plan, implement and oversee environmental remediation projects at former Air Force bases. Currently, I manage the environmental programs at three former bases: Williams in Arizona; Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; and England in Louisiana. I also support the program manager at the former Griffiss AFB, New York.

What is the best thing about your job?
It’s constantly changing and always poses a challenge … I also enjoy working with so many interesting, skilled and personable people.

As a child, what job did you want to have when you grew up?
I was unsure which career I wanted to pursue. I credit my high school physics teacher and my father for encouraging me to consider engineering.

What made you pursue engineering as a career?
Math and physics were my favorite subjects in high school. I was not 100% sure about engineering, so I chose a college that had liberal arts and engineering programs. I liked engineering and stuck with it, while also taking liberal arts courses in history, economics and psychology.

What is your favorite part about being an Air Force CE?
The variety, challenges and people. I enjoy planning and implementing multiple projects. It has been rewarding to work with federal and state regulators, contractors, private landowners and stakeholders to transfer Air Force BRAC property. In several cases, the Air Force BRAC team has worked with private developers to complete redevelopment and environmental cleanup concurrently.

Why is your job important to the Air Force mission?
We reduce environmental liabilities so the Air Force can dispose of property for redevelopment and reuse by the Local Reuse Authority, and property transfer frees up critical resources the Air Force needs.  

What advice do you have for someone new to the engineering field? 
I would encourage anyone who likes math, science and problem solving to consider engineering. It is a very broad career field and there is a great deal of flexibility. My degree is in mechanical engineering, and I have worked as a mechanical engineer for a paper company, a manufacturing engineer for an aerospace manufacturer and as a mechanical and environmental engineer for the Air Force. When I started there were not many other women engineers. I’ve always felt comfortable as a female engineer in all of my workplaces, but we still need more women in the engineering field.

What motivates and inspires you the most?
I am fortunate to have a job I enjoy. New challenges arise frequently and I can see the results of my efforts. I am grateful to have worked with so many skilled and personable people from all over the country. Raising a family and working as an engineer both inspired me. Our three adult children are now all working themselves. I enjoy a wide variety of leisure activities with friends and family.

If there was one engineering marvel or achievement that you could have been a part of, what would that have been and why?
The engineering plans were prepared with pencil and paper on drawing boards at my first job. It has been interesting to see and participate in all the changes in technology and how we do business since then.

Is there anything you would like to add?
Spread the good word to your family and friends that engineering can be a fulfilling and enjoyable career.