MOBILE, Ala. – Justin McDonald, lead engineer for civil works U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District (USACE), has been named the Mobile Area Council of Engineers (MACE) 2017 ‘Young Engineer of the Year’. McDonald received the award Jan. 26 during a ceremony at the Gulf Coast Exploreum in downtown Mobile, Ala.
The award is presented to engineers under the age of 35 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership qualities in their professional lives and the local community.
Thad Hendrix, MACE Chairman, explained what qualities engineers must possess to be considered for the award.
“We have three big awards,” said Hendrix. “We give the Engineer of the Year, we give the Project of the Year, and we also give the Young Engineer of the Year. When we look at the Young Engineer of the Year we are looking for a well-rounded citizen of Mobile, who is active in community service, involvement in professional societies, and they have to show leadership in their positions at work.”
According to Hendrix, the Young Engineer of the Year carries a special significance because it is not handed out every year.
“We don’t always give this award out,” he said. “It’s a really big deal. This is one of the rare years where we actually had nominees who are worthy of those three awards.”
McDonald began working at the USACE as a student trainee back in 2003 and has quickly ascended through the ranks. District Commander Col. James DeLapp was on hand to present the award to McDonald and offered a few thoughts on why he has been so successful.
“Justin first came to work at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Mobile back in 2003 from Auburn University,” said DeLapp. “He jumped right into it and has really became a shooting star in our organization.”
“Beyond his great successes he has done a lot here in the community and a lot for the Nation. In 2010 Justin volunteered to deploy down to Haiti after the earthquake…and he has been the recipient of numerous awards within the Corps and for his volunteer efforts down there. In 2016 he was our Engineer of the Year, and in 2013 he was awarded the Alex Von Huevel Award for Outstanding Leadership. The bottom line is that Justin is the future of not only our engineering division in the Corps of Engineers, but he’s exactly what we need in this community.”
As humble as he is talented, McDonald attributed much of his success to his fellow engineers at the USACE.
“I’m extremely fortunate to work with some of the most talented engineers and professionals in the business,” McDonald said. “The reason I’m able to stand here and accept this award is, in large part, because of them.”
“Everyone in this room who’s an engineer and likely many who aren’t, realize the importance of teamwork and the importance of surrounding yourself with talented people. I can say without a shadow of doubt that I’m surrounded by great people and many of them are just as deserving of this award as I am. So, for me, this award is not so much about my accomplishments as it is a recognition of the great people in my organization who continue to do great work for this Nation.”