The Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) honored its researchers, scientists and engineers during an awards ceremony in Hanover, New Hampshire, in December 2020.
The laboratory followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 guidelines in order to host the event and provide recognition to its employees in a safe manner.
Numerous awards were presented to current employees whose work contributed to the mission of delivering vital public and military engineering services, partnering in peace and war to strengthen our nation’s security, energizing the economy and reducing risks from disasters.
The final award, the Distinguished Employee Award, recognized the lifelong contributions made by Tim Pangburn, who started working for CRREL in 1978 as a civil engineering technician. He retired in 2017 as a director for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Remote Sensing (RS)/Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center of Expertise.
“It is a great honor to receive this and to think about starting here as a technician and the honor of working for CRREL and the Corps of Engineers as a public servant,” said Pangburn, upon receiving the award. “The main thing is the relationships that you make with people, so think about the people that are in this group and learn from them.”
In 1977, after completing a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Union College in Schenectady, New York, Pangburn said he was fortunate to get a temporary job as a civil engineering technician at CRREL. He quickly realized that CRREL was a special place to work with many extraordinary people who were always willing to offer advice and mentorship.
“My work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was to provide solutions for water resources engineering and water resource critical infrastructure,” said Pangburn. “As director of the USACE Remote Sensing/GIS Center of Expertise, I provided leadership enabling our staff to become the go-to organization for remote sensing, emergency support, snowmelt hydrology, natural resources and relational and spatial database management for water resources engineering in the USACE.”
Pangburn had a significant impact on the ERDC and USACE as an ambassador for civil works mission areas and geospatial and remote sensing technologies, said CRREL Director Dr. Joseph Corriveau.
“His impact was significant in developing and implementing the first enterprise-wide geospatial data systems for USACE,” said Corriveau. “In particular, the CorpsMap program evolved from a standalone GIS desktop application to a web-based enterprise geospatial database that was available without the confines of using a piece of software that needed to be installed.”
The development of these geospatial database systems dynamically changed how USACE, the Army and its partners gained access to data. This initial work led to the RS/GIS Center of Expertise being the primary team to develop the National Levee Database following Hurricane Katrina.
“Tim is receiving this recognition for his exceptional service to our nation,” said Corriveau. “His revolutionary contributions to how civil and military agencies utilize remote sensing and geographic information systems to support critical civil works and military missions, and for contributing to the reputation and honor of USACE and ERDC, and CRREL.”
While the current pandemic drastically limited the amount of people who could attend the ceremony in person, the event was broadcast online for ERDC employees. Elizabeth Jette, a CRREL management and program analyst, said she’s known Pangburn so long it’s hard to remember when they first met, and he deserved the honor of being recognized as the distinguished employee for 2020.
“Tim deserved this honor. I’ve seen a lot of people inducted into the gallery over the past 30 years, but seeing Tim inducted was very special,” said Jette. “I only wish was that it had been a ‘normal’ ceremony so that everyone could have attended, as the house would have been filled.”
Pangburn’s portrait and achievements will be immortalized in CRREL’s Gallery of Distinguished Employees, which was established in 1986 as part of the laboratory’s Silver Jubilee Year. The first distinguished employee recognized in the gallery is W. Keith Boyd, the first CRREL technical director. Boyd facilitated the 1961 establishment of CRREL in Hanover, and his leadership enhanced CRREL’s stature and reputation as a leader in cold regions research throughout the world.
“The best thing about CRREL was the mentorship and working relationships I had that enabled me to accomplish any career goal that I aspired to,” said Pangburn. “I tried to provide the same support to my staff. To be included with these distinguished employees, whom I very much admired, is a great honor.”