#IAMAFCE: Meet Senior Master Sgt. Karen Bennett

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(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 Senior Master Sgt. Karen D. Bennett, the emergency management program manager at Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Detachment 4, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. 

What are your main responsibilities?
Organize, train and equip readiness and emergency management flights across the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa theater of operations. 

What is the best thing about your job?
I often get phone calls from flight members who are looking for a second opinion or want to just run an idea by someone. I really enjoy having those conversations and talking through tough situations or new ideas with my teammates.

As a child, what job did you want to have when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher and an astronaut. I’ve lucked out in that the emergency management career field teaches many courses to the Air Force enterprise, to include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training.

What made you pursue engineering as a career?
Initially, I didn’t know that I would become part of the engineer community, but I’m very grateful that I’ve spent my whole career with many amazing engineer professionals. I enjoy math and science so I feel fortunate that I am able to work within my strengths.

What is your favorite part about being an Air Force CE?
I love the diversity that comes with being a CE. I’ve worked with architects, mechanical engineers, explosive ordnance disposal techs, firefighters, heavy equipment operators and many more. Engineers take care of the base and Airmen in almost every emergency situation and are incredible professionals.

Why is your job important to the Air Force mission?
Emergency managers are best known for the phrase “plan for the worst, hope for the best.” We think about the things that people don’t want to think about — natural disasters, major accidents, terrorist incidents, chemical and biological warfare, etc.— and then we plan for those things. It’s a labor of love that we never want to employ, but enables the Air Force mission when we have to.

What advice do you have for someone new to the engineering field? 
Spend time with the other crafts and Air Force specialty codes. Learning about other aspects of the CE community will make you better at your job. Also, spend time with the civilians in your work centers. They have been doing the job for a long time and have so much goodness to offer if you’re willing to take the time to listen.

What motivates and inspires you the most?
I love seeing Airmen utilized for their strengths and talents. When we are able to leverage those capabilities within our Airmen we get serious buy-in for the Air Force enterprise. And of course, my own children! They have the most sincere hearts and interesting minds and I love being their mom; they inspire me to be better every day.

If there was one engineering marvel or achievement that you could have been a part of, what would that have been and why? 
Safe water supply; water provides life to everything. Once we were able to make safe water readily available, then we were able to prevent the spread of many diseases and increase the health of people and crops.