NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 12, 2021) – Sarah Wiles, senior geologist in the Civil Design Branch’s Geology Section, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Employee of the Month for December 2020.
Wiles is recognized primarily for her leadership role as the technical lead in the creation of the district’s first ever “Technical Lead Manual,” which is a learning tool and reference for project delivery team members that may be serving as a technical lead for the first time.
“Through Sarah’s leadership, the team persevered to create a resource that will help new technical leads successfully navigate the project delivery process and fulfill their duties as the project’s lead proponent for technical quality,” said Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander.
The commander also lauded Wiles for her work to create a command-level process at the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division to accomplish the same goal.
“It is commendable anytime you can create a process or document used across the region or the nation,” Avichal added. “Sarah is a true agent of revolution by helping streamline project delivery both locally and regionally.”
Wiles is a project geologist at Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River in Jamestown, Kentucky, where she also started her career in construction during the barrier wall construction. She is also the civil design project geologist for the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“It has been very exciting leading a team of geologists through everything from active construction challenges, to the design process and teaching them how to create plans and specifications for our upcoming contracts,” Wiles said.
As for her work on the “Technical Lead Manual,” she explained that the manual has grown into two documents, one section for new technical leads and one for advanced technical leads. The manual contains activities, with brief descriptions, and workflow diagrams that can be utilized in the planning, engineering design, and construction phases of a project. It focuses on what the technical lead should be doing at different phases of the project, Wiles explained.
“A technical lead is an individual who has been given the responsibility of overseeing the technical quality of the deliverables through the life of a project,” Wiles said. “They lead a project delivery team to deliver a quality product on time, within budget, and in accordance with law and policy that meets or exceeds the customer’s expectation.”
Wiles shares credit with Charlie Thomason, Long Truong, Barry Moran and Rob Baulsir for their contributions and input with the manual. She noted that Tom Herbert and Lacey Thomason in the Planning Section, Aras Barzanji and Kelley Philbin in Hydraulics and Hydrology, and Alex Fenili in the Survey and Mapping Section assisted as well.
Josh Bomar, Geology Section chief, supervises Wiles and said he’s impressed by how eager she is to learn and prove herself by actively pursuing a master’s degree in Geotechnics at Missouri University of Science & Technology while working full time and leading the team of senior engineers developing the “Technical Lead Manual.”
“She did so with no positional authority when everyone is busy with design efforts, which demonstrates her leadership qualities,” Bomar said.
Wiles is originally from Navarre, Ohio, and has a master’s degree from Kent State University. She is working for a second master’s degree in engineering and geotechnics at Missouri S&T.
In her off time, Wiles enjoys spending time with her husband Josh; daughter Allie, 12; and sons Colton, 7, and Owen, 5. Her hobbies include sewing, woodworking, redecorating the house, gardening, and pretty much anything that provides her an artistic outlet.
The Ohio native began working with the Nashville District 10 years ago and said she considers herself one of the lucky people who were able to get their “dream job.”
“I really enjoy the problem solving that’s necessary for engineering and design work,” Wiles said.
The commander said the future of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dependent on its workforce to have the technical expertise, initiative and drive to carry out new processes.
“Thanks to Sarah for her desire for continuous improvement – job well done,” Avichal said. “The Nashville District and Corps of Engineers is lucky to have Sarah on the team.”
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)