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Employee Spotlight: Nathan Adams

Employee Spotlight: Nathan Adams

Nathan Adams is a configuration manager and Army materiel developer at CCDC Chemical Biological Center – Rock Island. He graduated from Iowa State University in 2006 with a degree in mechanical engineering and after two years in the private sector began his government career with the Center at Rock Island in 2008. Adams is a lifetime Iowan, and he and his wife have three young children. Solutions posed a series of questions to Adams recently to give readers an inside perspective on one of the Center’s young engineers.

Solutions Newsletter: Why did you decide to pursue mechanical engineering as a career?

Nathan Adams: We had a college and career prep class at my high school, and a variety of professionals came to speak at our school. The one who really stood out to me was a parent of one of my classmates, who shared about his career as an engineer. It seemed like a great fit, as I was pretty good at math and loved to design and build things, and I liked that it offered a good salary on just a four-year degree.

Solutions: What led you to seek employment at CCDC CBC Rock Island?

Adams: My first job out of college was in the private sector, and I was not enjoying the work environment and the high pressure. I heard through a friend from church that an organization at Rock Island Arsenal called ECBC (now CCDC CBC) was hiring engineers, and that it was a great place to work, so I applied. After an interview and an agonizing four-month wait, I found out I got the job.

Solutions: What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most or find the most rewarding, and why?

Adams: After starting at ECBC, I was immediately impressed by the sense of camaraderie among the engineers- everyone on my team was happy to take the time to help each other with their projects, and this seemed to be true of the other teams as well. Though the operations tempo has certainly increased since I started 11 years ago, I would say that this sense of teamwork and cooperation is still very much present here.

Solutions: What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on?

Adams: That would be a project I’m currently working on. As the configuration manager for two chem-bio end items currently in the sustainment phase, I am responsible for ensuring that all requirements are met as these items are produced. Unfortunately, we are experiencing an issue with a performance requirement for one of the raw materials, while at the same time, demand for the end items has seen a sharp increase. We have managed to mitigate the risk through testing to ensure that the product is not affected, but the issue has kept our team very busy as we work to identify the root cause and brief status updates to our management and outside customers, while balancing a heavy workload from other sustainment and developmental projects.

Solutions: What are your career goals?

Adams: This may not be so much a personal goal as an organizational one, but I would like to be a part of growing our relationship between the sustainment engineers here at CCDC CBC Rock Island and the joint project managers, to ensure that sustainment concerns are given a priority in the early stages of a developmental program. As an Army materiel developer for a couple of programs, I do have some input, but I don’t see a meaningful shift in priorities on issues such as technical data rights happening until there is greater representation in these programs from people with a sustainment background.

Solutions: Who is your hero or role model?

Adams: This is a difficult question as there have been many key influencers in my life. One of my role models would be a mentor at my church. He is diligent and hardworking and is seen by many as a leader, though not in an official capacity. He sets an excellent example as a servant leader. Another role model is a manager at work who does a great job of balancing tasks and relationships both inside and outside CCDC CBC. He values others’ contributions and yet challenges them to do more. I’ve also seen how he has worked to build upon those relationships and grow our organization.

Solutions: What advice would you share with young STEM professionals considering careers with the government?

Adams: It is a great career move; though it may not seem as exciting as many private sector engineering openings, there are plenty of opportunities for advancement once you get your foot in the door. Additionally, the government tends to be more accommodating to family life and work-life balance than private sector employers.

Solutions: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?

Adams: I’ve learned a lot about team work. I have had the privilege of being a part of a great team and being a team leader at times. As major projects or urgent tasks have come up, I’ve learned how to take initiative and ownership. The workload and pressure of these responsibilities has also pushed me to learn to delegate.

Solutions: You are married with three young children. How do you balance your professional responsibilities with your family life?

Adams: It starts at home. My wife has been very supportive of my career, and is an awesome stay-at-home mom to our precious kids. We are also blessed to have family within driving distance, so that is very helpful. On the other side of things, my management here at work is very good about accommodating personal plans and needs if at all possible when planning for TDY.

Nathan Adams, Configuration manager and Army materiel developer at CCDC Chemical Biological Center

Nathan Adams