19-075 Walla Walla District announces annual award winners

Published June 28, 2019

Eight civilian employees and two teams of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District earned recognition for superior performance during an annual-award ceremony on Friday, June 28, at the District Headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington.

Evan Heisman, a hydraulic engineer for the District’s Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch, received the Engineering Excellence Award.  Heisman earned Engineer of the Year honors primarily for his work on enhanced hydraulic modeling through innovative computer programming to improve model efficiency and productivity for the Columbia River Treaty and Columbia River System Operations teams, supporting studies critical to reducing flood risk and maximizing hydroelectric potential in the Pacific Northwest.

Hillary Smith, an electrical engineer in the district’s Electrical Design Section, received the Public Outreach & Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Program Award for supporting National Engineers Week activities within the district and at many Walla Walla-area schools. Smith also supports Corps recruiting activities at universities and colleges throughout the District, and teaches a class at Walla Walla University, sharing her enthusiasm for engineering and cultivating young people’s interest in STEM careers.

Kevin Crum, a District civil engineer and project manager, received the Quality Proponent Award, primarily for his work as the District’s quality manager and value engineer. Crum championed the District’s “PMP Builder” Automated Information System (AIS) tool for developing quality Project Management Plans (PMP). The PMP Builder system is now a Corps of Engineers Enterprise business tool adopt by other districts. As quality manager he led the District’s Quality Management Board to develop a functional quality management system and develop, review and refine key business processes.  

The Lower Granite miter gate pintle modification project team received the Project Management Business Process Award. The downstream miter gate was brought back to operation ahead of schedule, repairing significant cracking in the drainage culverts, and replacing the damaged lubrication system of the miter gate.  These accomplishments include repairing the damaged concrete within the lock to support jacking the south leaf weighing approximately 880,000 pounds, removing the miter gate pintle ball, and replacing the grease lines and supports. The team faced many constraints and hurdles along the way, with regards to the project complexity, fiscal constraints, and impacts to the construction schedule. Team members worked countless hours to conduct the critical repairs needed to return the navigation lock back to service within the quickest manner possible, minimizing the impacts to the navigation industry throughout the region.

Support Employee of the Year awards in two categories were presented to employees with more than 5 years of federal service who provided exemplary service, exceptional devotion to duty, and significant, broad-scope contribution of to the efficient and economical operation of the District:

-- Carrie Van Stedum, a project support specialist in Construction Branch, earned honors in the pay-grade 9 and under category for her exceptional support to track contract payments, modifications and more, ensuring complete documentation, without contract closeout delays, or any other discrepancies on contracts in the District’s Upper Snake/Clearwater Resident Office.

-- Christopher Russell, the District’s training program specialist, was recognized in the pay-grade 10 and higher category, primarily for developing an interactive customer evaluation system, now used throughout the district. The system enables immediate feedback from customers for continuous improvement.

Outstanding Achievement awards were presented in three categories to employees with more than 5 years of federal service who made a contribution in a career field other than engineering that resulted in material improvement in service, substantial financial or manpower savings, or in significant social or technological improvements or progress:

-- Sean Nelsen, an engineering technician at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir, near Ahsahka, Idaho, was honored in the pay-grade 9 and under category for, most notably, for providing CADD assistance to process drawing mark ups of special projects containing as-built notations. He completed this assignment, expected to require multiple years, in less than a year. In doing so, he single-handedly updated an enormous number of drawings in a quick and accurate fashion, exceeding all expectations.

-- Ann Setter, Chris Peery and Eric Hockersmith, who comprise the District’s Natural Resources’ Fish Operations Team, were recognized in the pay-grade 10 and higher category, for their expertise in the operation and maintenance of fish passage facilities and their technical leadership and coordination of endangered fish species related actions. Together they identified, marketed and executed unique and cost-saving measures for the federal government while continuing to meet the obligations and legal requirements surrounding fish passage on the Snake and Columbia River system. 

-- Lee Cook, a painter at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir, received the trades-and-crafts category award, for creativity, artistic design and efficient completion of a facility-wide painting plan in patriotic red, white and blue. Clean paint on floors, walls and equipment in the powerhouse, which makes it easy to see anything on it, is essential to quickly identify equipment-problem indicators.

Michaela Murdock, an attorney with the District’s Office of Counsel, was honored as the New Employee of the Year, primarily for exemplary legal support to the District’s Planning Branch and Regulatory Division projects and programs. 


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 19-075