#IAMAFCE: Meet Staff Sgt. Hilary Perkins

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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 Staff Sgt. Hilary Perkins, an airfield pavement evaluation team technician in the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Detachment 1 Operations Directorate, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

What are your main responsibilities?
I collect field samples of airfield pavements and soils, and oversee the material testing and soil classification to determine properties and strengths of the materials used in airfield construction. This data is used to certify U.S. Air Force airfields and determine mission capabilities, construction requirements and pavement life cycle.

What is the best thing about your job?
The team that I work with and knowing our work makes a difference for the pilots that land on our airfields. Being able to see the direct impact of our work is very rewarding. The traveling opportunities are pretty cool too.

As a child, what job did you want to have when you grew up?
I always wanted to become a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. This is still my post-military career goal and I am working toward my master’s degree in this field.

What made you pursue engineering as a career?
I come from a long line of engineers; my grandfather was an architectural engineer and my father is an electrical engineer. I suppose I’ve always had an engineering brain. When I was offered this job in the Air Force, I thought it would be a good fit. 

What is your favorite part about being an Air Force CE?
The legacy that engineers have. There isn’t a single location that we operate out of that an Air Force engineer hasn’t had a part in building and maintaining. 

Why is your job important to the Air Force mission?
We determine which pavements are safe for aircraft landing. We also evaluate the condition of current pavements and landing zones to ensure the continued safety of our aircraft fleet. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the engineering field? 
Always ask questions and find out why your job is important. There are engineers that you will work with that will pass on every bit of knowledge they have, if you just ask. In the day-to-day operation, you can lose sight of our purpose and the importance of our jobs, but we are critical to Fly, Fight and Win. 

What motivates and inspires you the most?
First Lt. Kenneth ‘Kage’ Allen was a very dear friend of mine, and he lost his life in an F-15 crash last summer. He used to tell me to soar wherever I went and I would be successful in anything that I do. My friends and loved ones that are pilots landing on my airfields inspire me to do the best job that I can. They motivate me to ensure I’m doing everything in my power to protect their safety. Every time I see an aircraft take off or land, I’m reminded how vital my job is. 

If there was one engineering marvel or achievement that you could have been a part of, what would that have been and why?
I would have to say the Three Gorges Dam in China. This massive concrete structure is an engineering marvel providing electrical power equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants. This hydroelectric structure regulates navigation on the Yangtze River in China, controls floods and generates enormous quantities of electrical power. It is an object of admiration and a monument to human ingenuity. 

Is there anything you would like to add?
Engineers … Lead the Way!