For International Women in Engineering Day 2022, we’re excited to bring you a series of interviews with some incredible #OurJacobs women from around the world. In this article meet Cindy Miller and learn how she got to where she is today, why she was attracted to a career in STEAM and what she thinks is the best part of working at Jacobs.
Let's talk with Cindy:
Tell us what you’re working on these days.
Currently, I’m responsible for our vast contract to provide contingency support for the military. Some of our projects include tornado and hurricane recovery efforts at Navy and Marine Corps installations and various other projects that the military requires expedited construction. The work is extremely high-paced and comprehensive, with our client partnerships being critical to the success of these unique projects. Being able to support the military in a time of crisis is very rewarding to me, and I know that I’m making a difference in the lives of our military members and their families.
What led you to this point on your career path?
I’ve always loved math, science and “solving the tricky puzzles.” My desire to always “make a better mousetrap” led me into STEAM. In high school, I visited the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), and I immediately realized that it was the school for me as it provided the academic, physical and leadership challenges I desired. I attended USNA and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering. Upon graduation, I was commissioned in the Navy and served nine years of active duty as a Navy Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officer. After starting my family, I transferred to the Navy reserves and completed my 20 years of service, retiring in 2010. Although I was able to perform numerous duties in the CEC, I found the most enjoyment in my tours as a project manager in construction.
In January of 2011, I joined Jacobs as a federal project manager. I managed design and energy projects across numerous clients, including the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and NASA. Between 2011 and 2019, I served as project manager on 110 Design-Build (D-B) Request for Proposals (RFPs) and 20 Design-Bid-Build (D-B-B) projects valued at more than 250 million dollars. Due to my Navy experience, I supported our design teams by providing planning efforts for four new Navy and Marine Corps aviation projects in California and Nevada. In 2016, I became a Manager of Talent, where I supervised 22 project managers.
In 2017, one of my Marine Corps clients was devastated by a series of tornadoes, resulting in significant damage to the installation. This was the beginning of my experience with our Navy Global Contingency Construction (GCC) contract. Since the tornado project, I’ve served as the capture manager for more than 18 GCC tasks. I’ve personally engaged in the Hurricane Harvey recovery at Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus, Hurricane Michael and tornado recovery at Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany, Hurricane Sally recovery at NAS Pensacola, as well as time-sensitive projects at the Navy Philadelphia Shipyard and NAS Pensacola. In 2019, I became the Program Manager for the GCC where I’m responsible for task orders ranging from initial disaster recovery efforts, repair projects associated with recovery efforts and new construction in unique and challenging areas of the world.
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEAM?
My dad has always pushed me to ask, “the question.” Whether it was “why can’t we…. (Go faster, go further, go deeper)?” or “why are we doing it that way?” or “who told you that it wasn’t possible to do that?” The discussions that my dad and I had over these questions drove me always to want to know more so that I could find the best solution to the next problem. I’ve always loved addressing challenges and finding better ways to do things. STEAM offered me the path to be able to “solve” problems and come up with “outside the box” solutions.
Tell us about a memorable project you’ve worked on that has helped build a brighter future.
On the tornado recovery project at MCLB Albany, we were able to come in and truly help the client recover from the disaster. We worked hand in hand with the client to help assess the damage and begin emergency repairs so that the client could open their gates again, providing their service to the Marines who relied on them. So many people depended on us to perform recovery efforts, and it was truly inspiring to see our whole team jump in and never hesitate to do what was needed to succeed.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Be flexible! No matter how well one plans for an event or project, there are always changes and disruptions. Being flexible and allowing for team members’ input is the key to getting through the change. I’ve learned to embrace change and always look for the silver lining of every change.
“I’ve always loved addressing challenges and finding better ways to do things. STEAM offered me the path to be able to “solve” problems and come up with “outside the box” solutions.”
Proudest career moment?
When I was on active duty at NAS Jacksonville, FL, my supervisor asked me to go to NAS Meridian, MS, for a few months to assist with a construction project that was not progressing well. I was honored to help get the project back on track and I felt a true sense of accomplishment when we were able to turn the project over to the end-user successfully.
What does the future of engineering look like to you?
To me, the future of engineering is so exciting! There are so many opportunities to improve how we currently do things. We need to always remember that every person is important in making this a better world. By engaging with others and challenging the status quo, we’re going to make this world a better place!
If you could tell your 18-year-old-self one thing, what would it be?
Enjoy life and do everything that you can do! Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t fixate on how tough something is in the moment because you can brag about it for the rest of your life!
People would be surprised to know that I…
I have four wonderful children, with three of them currently serving in the military and the fourth is a rising senior in high school who wants to serve in the military.
What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?
The sense of family and community. I feel that we’re all here to better our world and do what’s right; we’re inclusive, we strive to understand our clients’ needs and help them in all that we do, and we treat each other as we would like to be treated.
About the interviewee
Born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, but growing up in Texas, LCDR Cindy Miller graduated with merit from the United States Naval Academy Annapolis, Maryland, in 1990 where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering and rowed varsity crew. She’s a longstanding member of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), currently holding the position of chair of STEM camps. She has volunteered at numerous SAME STEM camps and the Exploring Engineering Academy camp at Georgia Tech as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Tech Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, volunteered as a Future Cities Mentor for five middle school teams and volunteered as a Mathcounts middle school coach for four years.
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