Engineering: behind the scenes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Staker
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the last in a series of articles about the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron and all they offer to the 28th Bomb Wing.

Within the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, a flight consisting of 38 military and civilian personnel works to ensure the projects you see around the base are adequately planned, funded and constructed per the regulations and requirements set forth by the Air Force.

The engineering flight is made up of two organizations -- portfolio optimization and project management.

"The purpose of the engineering flight is to plan, program for funding, design, and construct infrastructure and facilities to support the mission," said Howie Aubertin, chief of the 28th CES engineering flight. "These include all things that need design and construction, such as new construction, renovations and bed downs for missions like the 432nd Attack Squadron."

Aubertin has worked for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force engineer corps as a Department of Defense civilian for 30 years and says he finds his job interesting due to the diversity of its mission.

"I think it is fun and interesting for all of us; we basically serve the customer to try and find out what they need, and enable them to succeed in their mission," Aubertin said.    

Within portfolio optimization, sections such as community planning and planning and programming, which are primarily managed by civilian engineers, focus on the sustainment of the base, its impact and layout.

"Community planning looks at what is best for the base to maintain its current mission and prepare for the future," Aubertin said. "Its emphasis is on interaction with local jurisdictions and looks at what the base's impacts are on the community. They then address them adequately, and look at what [factors] outside may have on the base and communicate how those could be mitigated."

Within community planning, engineers also focus on the physical presence of the base, its layout, and the requirements for new missions. The planners and programmers also have to advocate for funding for repair and construction projects by providing proper documentation to higher headquarters to obtain needed funds, Aubertin said.

Engineers not only focus on providing facilities for tenant units who have "bedded down" to operate from Ellsworth, but also must use these skills while deployed in order to properly engineer and set up a forward operating location.

"The technical support personnel provide a lot of the mapping and drafting support for projects and they also are the boots on the ground," Aubertin said. "They are the Airmen that go out with the skill set they have from home station and lay out bases, locate facilities and know what the separation requirements for those are, such as where to place a sewage treatment facility in relationship to bed facilities."

Aubertin said serving the customer is a great part of what he does, because there are always challenges for a task at hand, but understanding what their customers need for them to effectively do their job and come up with a solution is satisfying.

"Solving problems and putting the solution in place, whether it is for the mission or supporting the base populous in general, that is satisfying," he said.