Q&A Jan 10, 2023

A Lifetime of Engineering Excellence: Q&A with Federal Portfolio Director and Retired U.S. Navy Captain Jake Washington

A legacy of service brought Portfolio Director and Program Manager Jake Washington to Jacobs, where he applies experience and expertise garnered during his long and illustrious career to help solve the toughest challenges for our military clients.

Jake Washington banner graphic

Whether he is working hard managing large engineering programs or playing hard at “the happiest place on earth,” Jake Washington brings excellence to everything he does. He held progressive program and project management assignments throughout his career in the U.S. Navy, culminating as Commanding Officer for Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Midwest, where he led a 1,000-member military and civilian workforce serving Department of Defense agencies throughout a 16-state region. We sat down with Jake to talk about his home base of California, his history working with the Navy (and other military branches) and how his military career has impacted his perspective at #OurJacobs.

After 28 years, you retired from the U.S. Navy. What do you bring from that experience to your role at Jacobs?

After 28 years in military engineering, from the installation level to the Pentagon, I bring a deep, holistic knowledge of military facility requirements, from concept through the entire lifecycle. I understand the plethora of unique and changing conditions and how to engineer resilient, energy-smart facilities. I used this knowledge to support the uniformed services during my active-duty career and all federal agencies for the past ten years as a federal client leader for Jacobs.

You helped China Lake recover after two major earthquakes. How did that affect you?

I was privileged to lead the Jacobs team’s response to the July 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes. Over the past three years, we have employed almost 1,000 technical staff to support the continuing recovery effort. We worked side-by-side with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) to help plan, program and fashion a design-build delivery strategy in record time. We worked to complete 18 military construction projects and established a new field office near the base to provide on-site construction support through completion in 2026. I saw this as a “call to duty,” reminiscent of similar emergency response missions I supported on active duty. I experienced a tremendous sense of pride watching the Jacobs team perform and seeing new leaders emerge and shine in a dynamic and fast-paced environment. I enjoy the exhilarating feeling of knowing our team is playing a direct and substantial role in the unprecedented rapid recovery of such a vital national security asset.

“I have only held two jobs in my life — the military and Jacobs.”

Jake Washington

Jacobs Federal Portfolio Director and Retired U.S. Navy Captain

It sounds like you bring a military perspective to everything you do. In what ways can Jacobs help the DoD conserve resources and overcome logistical challenges?

Our military's real estate and energy footprints are huge — likely the largest of any single entity in our country. Training and operations, as well as planning, designing and constructing defense facilities and infrastructure, are connected to the health and resilience of the natural environment. At Jacobs, we lead the way in these areas. We are developing nature-based planning and design criteria, identifying ecological project solutions and exploring strategies for the electrification of base infrastructure and vehicle fleets. We draw out the requirements of each unique project and shape an optimized, unique solution that meets or exceeds the end customer’s needs. This promotes first-time project success, optimized production and logistical speed across all supported federal agencies.

How can Jacobs help prepare installations for mission readiness?

Jacobs’ focus on fully capturing programming and preliminary design requirements, and establishing comprehensive cost and schedule risk analysis programs, can reduce unexpected cost growth while increasing approval of key projects to achieve mission capability. Additionally, working closely with cost experts to monitor local market conditions, prudently applying cost escalation factors and partnering effectively with designers and builders minimizes the risk for all stakeholders, promoting end-to-end project cost and schedule efficiency.

Can you tell us about a memorable military project experience?

Probably the most memorable project experience for me was the culminating activity of my command tour at NAVFAC Midwest (MV), when I had the honor of commissioning the Navy’s lone enlisted recruitment campus in 2012, the revitalized Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois.  I had previously served at NAVFAC MW from 1997 – 2000, during which I helped build the budget and initiate the planning and design strategy to revitalize the WW II era “Boot Camp.” Over the ensuing decade, we rebuilt the campus from the ground up. During my command tour, I was honored to commission the final projects and host an inaugural celebration for the entire campus. Great Lakes is known as the Quarterdeck of the Navy, because every enlisted Sailor must pass through on their journey to service.

“I was looking for a private sector firm that offered exciting work and global opportunity, but most importantly, held the same values we do in uniform — honor, service to higher causes and an ethic that values safety and all people. I found that with Jacobs.”

Jake Washington

Jacobs Federal Portfolio Director and Retired U.S. Navy Captain

What is the most important factor when it comes to engineering for our military?

The most important factor in successful engineering is selecting the most highly qualified architecture-engineering-construction (AEC) industry partners. With Jacobs, our military can rest assured that long-term project delivery and mission support success is always the priority. Knowledgeable and experienced program managers and technical teams are critical, as are depth and breadth of subject matter expertise, innovation in engineering, proven delivery performance and consistent talent depth to meet surge requirements.

With more than 30 years living in California behind you, what makes it a great place to live and work?

California was my first active-duty location, serving as Surface Warfare Officer aboard a San Diego-based guided missile cruiser in the mid-1980s. I did five tours here during my military career and met and married my wife here. Two of our three children were born in California, and all three grew up and went to school here — California is home.  We love the weather, the ocean, the beautiful mountain views, wealth of natural beauty and historical landmarks. We are also a big Disneyland family, so being within an hour of the “happiest place on earth” is an additional benefit!

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

Not counting my childhood days as a paperboy in Indiana or working in a shoe store during high school, I tell people I have only held two jobs in my life — the military and Jacobs. When I transitioned from the military, I told a former Navy mentor I was looking for a private sector firm that offered exciting work and global opportunities. Most importantly, I wanted it to hold the same values we do in uniform — honor, service to higher causes and an ethic that values safety and all people. I found that with Jacobs. I enjoy the positive impact of growing the Jacobs team, fostering these virtues in our staff and watching with pride as it is paid forward again and again to new team members.

  • Jake Washington as RTC graduation reviewing officer
  • Jake Washington at a ball game
  • Jake Washington visiting a high school in Chicago

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About the interviewee

Program Manager and retired Navy Captain Jake Washington, AIA, NCARB, F. SAME, brings a wealth of leadership and more than 35 years of facilities and utilities engineering experience to his role at Jacobs. During his 28 years with Navy Surface Warfare and the Navy Civil Engineer Corps, he held senior leadership positions in command, program management, design and construction management and engineering operations, including executive positions at the local, regional, national and global levels. Since joining Jacobs, Jake has successfully led multiple large A-E IDIQ contracts supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC), the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Interagency and International Support (IIS) clients, including the China Lake Earthquake Recovery Program.