#IAMAFCE: Meet JD Buchholtz

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  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

(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 Jeffrey D. "JD" Buchholtz, a project manager in the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Facility Engineering Directorate, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

What are your main responsibilities?
Manage facility sustainment, restoration and modernization design and construction projects. This includes repairs and renovations for the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel, hangars and dorm overhauls.

What is the best thing about your job?
Working with the best team of engineers in the military! While I worked with AFCEC in the past, I was never able to be a part of AFCEC until now. Even though there are always ups and downs in any job, especially in our current environment, this is truly an amazing team of engineers and I am proud to work here with them!

As a child, what job did you want to have when you grew up?
I grew up in an Air Force family; both of my parents served in the military and my dad made it a full career in security forces. That life had appeal to me, especially for the excitement for the mission and comradery I saw among my parent’s friends and co-workers. However, I didn’t really have much of an idea beyond that though until later in life. 

What made you pursue engineering as a career?
Some people have a dream vocation or know what they want to do early on, but I really wasn’t sure. My close family members were cops, teachers, farmers, medical professionals and software engineers. None of that really sounded like a good fit for me. It wasn’t until I was trying to decide on a degree to study in college and was considering math or physics simply because I liked those subjects that someone said, “you know, engineering is applied math and science.” That clicked, I began a mechanical engineering degree, and have enjoyed it ever since.

What is your favorite part about being an Air Force CE?
I love the practical problem solving of engineering, and doing that for a mission I believe in is incredible!

Why is your job important to the Air Force mission?
I help repair and convert facilities to either keep the mission going or adapt to new mission requirements. FSRM is challenging in that we do not start with a blank slate and build from the ground up. We take something that is already there and we have to figure out how to fix it while adapting it at the same time. There are often surprising problems hidden within old facilities that we have to solve, and it is exciting to be a part of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center where we have the experts to figure out those solutions. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the engineering field? 
Communication was a significantly more important skill for engineers than I realized coming in, and that was a steep learning curve for me. Now that we are all working remotely right now, I’ve had to go back to some of my early lessons of initiating conversations and jumping on even small opportunities to check in with people so we stay connected and not only keep the mission going, but help each other out along the way.

What motivates and inspires you the most?
I have an amazing wife and three awesome kids. They inspire me and it is great fun seeing my kids get excited about what I do.

If there was one engineering marvel or achievement that you could have been a part of, what would that have been and why?
The construction of the Cheyenne Mountain underground base would have been an incredible project to be a part of. The engineering to put three-story facilities on massive 1,000-lb springs to handle shockwaves while building everything under a literal mountain of solid granite was incredible. It is projects like that showcasing ingenuity and incredible problem solving to do something both needed and innovative which is exciting to me.