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AFCEC program builds installation, I&MS leaders of the future

  • Published
  • By Kortinae Lozano
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Second Lt. Eric Jochmans thought it would be years into his civil engineering career before he’d be part of any big decision making. But within a few months, he found himself alongside seasoned engineers evaluating thousands of new, cutting edge technologies being pitched to the Air Force.

“I’ve learned a lot about the contracting process, and now I’m learning how the projects we selected actually look when they are executed,” Jochmans said.

While it typically takes several years before new CE officers might find themselves in that position, Jochmans and a small group of lieutenants are gaining valuable experience faster thanks to a prototype program developed by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.  

“My friends who are lieutenants in CE squadrons mostly get to work on programming for the many facility sustainment, restoration and modernization projects across the base,” Jochmans said. “That’s more than likely what I would be doing for a typical assignment … instead, I’m involved in high-level planning efforts and witnessing strategic objectives as they’re implemented.”

Established in 2020, the Tyndall Hands program is the vision of AFCEC Commander Brig. Gen. John Allen. In the Spring, the prototype four-year long program placed the first of five newly commissioned CEs into non-standard positions for their first assignments, supporting the Tyndall Program Management Office. 

The Tyndall PMO, a team of engineers and various subject matter experts in logistics, budgeting, finance and construction management, is tasked with rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, as the Installation of the Future, essentially charting tomorrow’s path for other installations. 

In addition to their time with the Tyndall PMO and completing mandatory coursework, the lieutenants will spend time supporting Tyndall’s  325th Civil Engineer Squadron and deploying for six months in support of the Al Udeid PMO in Qatar.

“Building the Installation of the Future is an incredible opportunity for our seasoned CEs to lead the way, and for our new CEs to learn,” Allen said. “There’s significant value in seeing the big picture before being asked to contribute to it. Tyndall and Al Udeid are unique opportunities to experience the breadth of Air Force CE and provide perspective for our future leaders.”

Second Lt. Nicholas Cap, PMO construction logistics officer, is also in the Tyndall Hands program, applying freshly learned engineering concepts toward the historic rebuild effort.

“I’m seeing firsthand how important the CE career field is to Air Force operations,” Cap said. “If our facilities are not built properly, our aircraft can’t fly.”

Tyndall PMO Program Manager 2nd Lt. Eric Long agrees and sees his current assignment as a once-in-a-career opportunity to learn from the best.

“The officers, enlisted and civilians I work with on a daily basis were all picked to come here because of their vast experience and knowledge,” Long said. “Everyone’s so passionate about the project and I want to learn as much as I can from them while I’m here.” 

While it will be several years before the team of lieutenants are leading squadrons or installation and mission support programs of their own, Allen hopes early career experiences like this will be an investment in strong I&MS leaders in the future.

Visit https://www.afimsc.af.mil/TyndallPMO for more on the Tyndall rebuild progress and Installation of the Future initiative.