Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



June/July 2011

Diversity/Careers June/July 2011 Issue

African Americans in tech
NYPA: Women engineers
BDPA plans conference
ABI's Women of Vision
Atam Dhawan of NJIT
Argonne & Native students

Energy M/WBEs
News & Views
VMX: environmental WBE
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

Sandia Intel

Diversity In Action

Military Sealift Fleet Support Command needs techies

The work is so specialized that most technical competencies are developed on the job, but an engineering degree or IT experience is a good start

During World War II four separate government agencies controlled sea transportation. But in 1949 the Military Sea Transportation Service became the single managing agency for Department of Defense ocean transportation and logistics needs.

Today that operation is managed by the Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (MSFSC). Its focus is to equip and maintain more than forty government-owned and -operated U.S. Navy logistics ships. Since 9/11 these Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships have played a vital and continuing role in the global war on terrorism.

Where do civilian engineers and IT pros fit in? Wanda Watson-Mays, MSFSC's EEO director, and Michael Kishbaugh, human capital development manager, say they're integral in many ways.

Experienced engineers do a range of jobs directly related to engineering lifecycle management in support of the ships, Kishbaugh explains. That includes implementing maintenance, operation and repair policies for specific classes of ship. Engineers also review technical work packages that include ship repair specs and plans. And they do hands-on reviews of ship maintenance and repair work with onsite inspections at shipyards across the country and around the world.

IT pros ensure proper execution of more than thirty major functions in direct support of the global fleet of Navy logistic ships. They support the IT needs of the shipboard workforce of civil service mariners plus shore-side staff at seven locations around the world. Top job designations are IT systems development and integration, IT ops and IT engineering and integration, Kishbaugh says.

Diversity and inclusion are key, Watson-Mays adds. "The men and women of MSFSC are committed to the vision established by the agency's leadership: to develop and maintain a model EEO program including recruitment and diversity strategies."

The work of MSFSC is so highly specialized that most specific technical competencies are developed on the job, Kishbaugh explains. But some type of engineering degree is required for a professional engineer at MSFSC. For the IT pro, a computer, IT or related degree is desirable, but may not be essential if the applicant has solid IT experience.

Direct maritime experience working for commercial shipping companies or shipyards is, of course, valuable for engineers and IT pros alike. MSFSC also hires a large percentage of veterans, Kishbaugh says.

On the job, professions are classified based on the standard federal government occupational series. Desirable technical competencies include marine engineering planning, shipboard configuration management, marine engineering systems and marine regulation. IT competencies that MSFSC seeks and develops include enterprise architecture, forensics and systems integrity. Project management and contract management are always important.

The engineering and IT departments make up about a quarter of the entire shoreside workforce. Both professions are in high demand, and some vacancies are usually available throughout the year, Kishbaugh says.

One desirable aspect of working at MSFSC is the group's new succession planning initiative. "We're trying to identify and develop the pipeline in anticipation of retirement plans of department heads and division directors," Kishbaugh explains.

MSFSC's recruitment and diversity strategy "focuses on actively pursuing diversity in all aspects of recruitment and hiring," Watson-Mays says. MSFSC attends many military-oriented career events in and around Hampton Roads, VA and career days at regional universities like Norfolk State, U Virginia, Virginia Tech and Tidewater Community College.

MSFSC also reaches out to transitioning military vets, maritime training schools and maritime high schools targeting underserved youth. "We think communication is the link to achieving success in our initiatives," Watson-Mays says.

MSFSC's EEO office, in conjunction with employee volunteers, "recognizes and celebrates" the six federally designated programs: black history, women's history, Asian Pacific islander, Hispanic heritage, disabilities, and American Indian months, Watson-Mays adds.


Military Sealift Fleet
Support Command (MSFSC)


Headquarters: Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, VA
Employees: 500 civil service support staff; 5,500 civil service mariners
Budget: $3 billion
Mission: Equips and maintains forty-plus government-owned and -operated ships

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