MED seeks improvement at 2010 AE/RE Conference

Published April 23, 2010

Tom Waters, acting Deputy for Programs and Project Management, discusses MED’s Customer Engagement Plan during the 2010 AE/RE Conference in Cairo, Egypt.

Middle East District leaders from the field and headquarters recently gathered in Cairo during the 2010 Area Engineer/Resident Engineer Conference to discuss the state of the organization and consider options for making it even better. Roger Thomas, chief of the Construction-Operations Division, kicked off the event with opening remarks and an overview of the five-day schedule.

“We have come together seeking continual improvement through a synergy of ideas,” he said. “We are going to engage in a conversation about things that need to be fixed and things that may simply need to be tweaked, but we are all working toward the common goal of improving the Middle East District.”

“This is an opportunity to review how we do business and improve,” added the district’s commander, Col. Ron Light, as he provided his opening remarks. “As the federal government’s construction agent in this area of operations, we must deliver quality.” Tom Waters, acting Deputy for Programs and Project Management, reiterated the message of quality as he discussed the district’s Customer Engagement Plan during the opening presentation.

“It is very important that we make our customers happy,” said Waters, while discussing Foreign Military Sales. “These foreign governments don’t need to come back to us. They have the option, so it is up to us to provide them with the reasons to continue doing business with us.”

Presentations continued throughout the morning as Waters discussed MED’s work for fiscal years 2010 to 2013, and Thomas discussed strategic initiatives.

The atmosphere was casual, facilitating open conversation and the exchange of ideas. All attendees were welcome to ask questions and provide feedback on the information being presented, and many took advantage of the opportunity. Light encouraged the area office representatives, asking that they “not let us leave here without understanding what you need to get your work done.”

During the afternoon session, Christy Loy, contracting team leader, talked about contracting representative roles, responsibilities and training requirements; Marsha Rudolph, contracting team leader, discussed the roles and responsibilities of the contracting officer forward; and Mike Graham, chief, Contract Administration Branch, provided information on contract modification processing. The first day’s agenda wrapped up with area office briefings given by Gharib Ibrahim, Qatar; Khaled Masoud, United Arab Emirates; and Barry Morley, Kuwait.

The second day of the conference began by focusing on technology. Joyce Rudy, MED’s Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) manager, highlighted some of the new programs and software the district is currently using and will begin using in the near future to help improve its product.

  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) uses three-dimensional, dynamic building modeling software to improve quality and reduce conflicts in building design and construction. MED is currently following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers roadmap (ERDC TR-06-10), which outlines the strategic and implementation plans for using BIM technology to improve USACE planning, design, construction, and maintenance processes.

  • ProjectWise helps MED effectively and efficiently collaborate and share resources and work between organizations using virtual teams in support of mission goals. It provides a centralized location for storage and distribution of project data to team members. In conjunction with the stand-up of Transatlantic Division, with MED designated as the reachback service provider, USACE issued a directive that ProjectWise be implemented across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) use computers and software to integrate information from database systems with mapping applications. It allows a user to view, understand and visualize data in ways not possible when viewed as rows and columns. MED will use GIS systems in conjunction with contractor as-built data to help compile composite GIS area maps.

The remaining presentations for the day included pre-construction meeting roles and responsibilities, safety, construction project close out, and ethics.

Day three was spent at the Egypt Area Office and began with extensive EEO training. Following a lunch with the area office staff, Nael Nmair, Egypt’s resident engineer, gave a thorough briefing on his office’s activities and projects. Wrapping up the afternoon, Light led a town hall session, presented awards to several area office personnel, and offered his closing remarks for the general sessions of the conference.

“This is a tough place to work. We don’t speak the same languages or come from the same cultures, but, thanks to everyone in this room, we are successful,” said Light. “However, we can get better. We need to get better.”

The final two days of the conference consisted primarily of construction specific meetings. Discussion topics included construction schedules, contract administration, contractor evaluations, and budgets.

Erick Barnes

Release no. 13-040