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Herff Engineering Alumni Making an Impact in a War Zone

Laura Rowland, Herff Engineering Alumna, is a project engineer in the South Park Resident Office of the Kandahar AirField.  She is serving on a NATO Base with many different nationalities and professionals. Rowland says, “It's been fun meeting new folks from all over the world, and tackling some of the challenges of working in a war zone.”  She arrived in Afghanistan on April 9, 2011 and is scheduled to return to Memphis in late September 2011.

As a project engineer, she reviews plans and specifications, construction submittals, placement, and pay requests. While on base, her projects included barracks, vehicle maintenance facilities, a warehouse, and a packaged sewage treatment. Depending on the project type, features may include deep water wells, electrical generation and distribution, hardened construction, and relocatable buildings.  She is also part of a source selection team that reviews design-build proposals.

Rowland says, “My U of M engineering degrees opened a lot of doors. Without them, I would not be here in this capacity with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).” She comments on the team approach aspect of working for the USACE. “The USACE has positions for all types of engineers.  It takes all of us to do this work, so other disciplines have opportunities to serve.”

This is not Rowland’s first time in a war zone.  In 1994, she served in Camp Victory outside Baghdad, Iraq. She comments on her experience, “I spent four months as a project engineer, and I felt that I made a difference to our troops and some of the Iraqi people.  Based on my first (and great) experience in a war zone, I made the choice to come again.”

What’s the next “engineering adventure” for Laura Rowland? She’s not sure but is considering working around natural disasters. Activities such as patrolling levees to look for problem areas, loading water into a vehicle, or patching a roof are all of interest to Rowland. She says, “During the event and in the aftermath, you can look into someone's face and know that you've helped.”

USACE has adopted the U.S. Wounded Warriors on Rowland’s base.  To help the Wounded Warriors, shop at http://www.walmart.com/giftregistry/gr_detail.do?registryId=26771441112 and their goods will be shipped to her compound. Rowland adds, “I've also been able to donate blood products for our injured.  It's just been a good experience!”

Rowland Plane
Laura Rowland touring an A-10 WartHog (fighter plane)

Rowland Camel
“I see herds of camels, sheep and goats just outside the wire.  The herders seem to just tag along with the animals.”

Class Notes

Sam Blustein (BSEE), a Houston attorney, was elected national president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the largest Jewish college fraternity in North America. He served as undergraduate chair for the 1972 national AEPi convention, which was held on the then-Memphis State campus.

Carol A Pafford (BM ‘89, BSEE) was promoted to department manager of electrical engineering for the City and County of Denver, Colorado. She has been with the city of Denver for five years, with ten years previously in consulting. She is a registered PE in five states, registered with Engineers Ireland and is currently working on her chartered engineering title with CIBSE in he UK.

Shane Hollin (BSCE) is a civil project engineer for Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates

Tim McCullough (BSET) opened McCullough-Leininger Architecture with Douglas Leininger

Mark Harber (BSME) was promoted to business manager for open mold non-reinforced products at AOC, a supplier of resins, gel coats, colorants and synergistic systems for composites and cast polymers.

Dr. Bill Blank (BSET, MS ’72) retired from the University of South Florida as a professor of career and technical education after 34 years of service, 10 as chair of the Department of Adult, Career & Higher Education. He will continue to teach part time as professor emeritus.   

Steve Brigance (BSCE) passed the professional engineering exam and is a civil project engineer with Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates Inc.

Ben Ledsinger (MSCE) of SSR Ellers received the Jack B. Humphreys Young Member Award from the Tennessee Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Heather Kraus (MSCE) of SSR Ellers received the Young Engineer Award from the Tennessee Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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