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One thing I enjoy about attending conferences is that you never know who you will meet. Last year during the inaugural Land Development Conference and Expo in Baltimore, I had the privilege to meet a charismatic, energized gentleman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Burns of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) Civil Engineer. He and Robert Barrett, chief of the environmental division of the ACC, attended the conference because it underscored the importance of collaboration across disciplines in planning, designing, and constructing land development projects, and they were attempting to revamp their unit’s project planning process. The conference was aligned with their goals and met their needs.

Following the event, Burns and Barrett invited our company president, Dick Ryan, and me to visit them at Langley Air Force Base in southeastern Virginia. They gave us an overview of the ACC Civil Engineer’s responsibilities amid the Air Force, introduced us to exciting new geospatial technologies it has used in Iraq, and presented information about its new land development project planning method called Future First Planning.

Furthermore, Burns designated us as honorary members of the ACC Civil Engineering Family and presented us with official military coins, which was quite an honor.

Additionally, we had a memorable tour of this fascinating facility, which is the oldest, continuously active Air Force base in the United States.

We witnessed world-class pilots practicing maneuvers; preparations for the F/A-22 Raptor, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft; and damage caused by Hurricane Isabel the previous fall. And we learned how the ACC Civil Engineer has a part to play in these and all of the other happenings on base.

Langley is truly a microcosm for land development issues. For example, environmental restoration, revitalization of existing facilities, and new land development are happening simultaneously, while ACC staff deal with tight budgets and strive to achieve environmental stewardship. Sound familiar? The only difference may be the thunderous roar of fighter jets, which is commonplace at Langley, but may be unfamiliar to you! The fact is that the ACC will meet its objectives successfully because it is employing smart, new approaches to land development projects, which are discussed in this month’s Military Engineering Series article (see page 26).

As it turns out, the Air Force’s new tactics involve skills in “leadership and business management,” “collaboration and project management,” and “land and community planning,” which just happen to be three of the four track titles for this year’s Land Development Conference and Expo, taking place May 4-6 in Baltimore, Md. I think it is safe to say that our event’s program is relevant to you, your clients, your regulators, and your other project partners. See the article on page 36, and go to www.LDconference.com to learn more and to register.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone that the Best Civil Engineering Firm To Work For Contest is going on now. CE News hosts this annual competition to provide meaningful recognition to firms that have great workplaces. Go to http://hotfirm.com/ to download the instructions and entry form. Entries must be postmarked by May 16, 2005. Good luck!

Shanon Fauerbach, P.E.
editor@cenews.com

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