Bureau of Reclamation Engineer Wins 2017 Federal Engineer of the Year

May/June 2017

NSPE Today
Bureau of Reclamation Engineer Wins 2017 Federal Engineer of the Year

Jennifer Bountry, P.E.JENNIFER BOUNTRY, P.E., RECEIVED THE 2017 FEDERAL ENGINEER OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR A PROJECT THAT RESTORED ACCESS TO HABITAT FOR SALMON AND STEELHEAD AND HELPED THE LOWER ELWHA KLALLAM TRIBE REGAIN ACCESS TO A SACRED SITE.

Civil engineer Jennifer Bountry, P.E., has been named the 2017 Federal Engineer of the Year by NSPE and the Professional Engineers in Government.

“It is an incredible honor,” Bountry told the crowd during the February award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “I’m quite shocked and humbled among all of these amazing engineers.”

As a civil engineer assigned to the Elwha River Restoration Project near Port Angeles, Washington, Bountry oversaw the sediment management team. The project included the concurrent removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, the largest ever removed, and the management of 27 million cubic yards of reservoir sediment.

Through the use of newly developed erosion forecast models and simulations, Bountry led a team of engineers and geomorphologists in monitoring the erosion and downstream transport of the sediment as the dams were removed in multiple, controlled increments. The project restored access for salmon and steelhead to 70 miles of habitat, returning the fish to the ecosystem within Olympic National Park and helping to revitalize the cultural traditions of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

Through the course of the project, the tribe even rediscovered its sacred creation site, the place where the Creator bathed the people and blessed them. The site had been covered by the waters of one of the two reservoirs created after construction of the dams in 1910 and 1927, according to the National Park Service.

“The tribe was one of the partners in the project, and they were one of the advocates that helped make this project happen over many, many decades,” Bountry says, adding that it not only restored the tribe’s cultural traditions but its history and heritage. “This was a really important project and they were continuously a great partner and collaborator for us on this.”

Bountry, an NSPE member, has high praise for everyone involved with the Elwha River Restoration Project, and for her, receiving the Federal Engineer of the Year Award is an honor she shares with everyone involved and the project itself.

“It’s just fantastic to receive this recognition for the Elwha dam removal project; it really is such an amazing tribute to doing restoration and helping our rivers,” Bountry said following the award ceremony. “This project was definitely such a learning experience, and the people that I was able to interact with were all so dedicated.”

Air Force Leader Promotes Professionalism

Major General Timothy Green, P.E., Air Force director of civil engineers and deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering, and force protection, delivered the keynote address at this year’s Federal Engineer of the Year Award ceremony. In his remarks, Green focused on the importance of role models in establishing the next generation of engineers, as well as the benefits and importance of the PE license.

Green was enrolled in mechanical engineering as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, but he was immediately put off by his first manufacturing engineering professor, who didn’t seem to care about his students at all. One of his academic advisors, on the other hand, was a civil engineer named Wayne Dunlap.

“Dr. Dunlap cared about me and everybody else, and so I changed my major,” Green told the audience. “I wanted to be like Dr. Dunlap; I wanted to be the kind of man he was and exemplified.”

Green then challenged the crowd of engineers, asking them who might be watching and making decisions based on their example before again using his personal experience to illustrate the benefits and importance of the PE license.

“When the people around me did not see me as a professional because I was young and didn’t have a PE… they looked at me different,” he said. “I was not able to effectively manage the conversation and lead.”

Green quickly realized he had to become a PE. And he noted that, once he did, every architect and engineer who came into his office commented on his license and treated him differently—like a professional.

“We all need to promote this idea of professionalism in our community and our career field, because the federal government does not always require it of all of us,” he said. “There are some portions of the government that rely on us as engineers, but sometimes people on the outside don’t view us that way unless we demonstrate this commitment.”

“We have a tremendous responsibility to this nation,” he continued. “We have a responsibility to grow the next generation of engineers. Your challenge as the leaders—all of you award winners and others—my challenge to you is to continue to go out and make a difference beyond just your job.”