EWeek spotlight: Desire to ‘build things’ leads former Soldier into role as Norfolk District project manager

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District Public Affairs
Published Feb. 18, 2019

FORT NORFOLK, Va. – After joining the Army as a teenager and training in combat arms, Mike Anderson turned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a way to channel his creativity.

National Engineers Week, or EWeek, which began Sunday, is an observation dedicated to raising public awareness of engineer contributions to quality of life. And with USACE serving as a globally recognized leader in engineering, Norfolk District is home to many who serve in this capacity.

Anderson, the Norfolk District Operations Branch Design Section chief, is certainly a vital part of that mission.

“Like all of the professional fields at the Norfolk District, engineering is a global game-changer,” said Maj. Alexander Samms, Norfolk District deputy commander. “Mike, in particular, is a key component in our ability to deliver the mission to our nation’s public infrastructure.”

Anderson’s initiation into public service began in 1985 upon enlisting into the Army at 16. He specialized in Field Artillery, a profession in which he remained until separating in 1992.

“I went into the Army to kick-start my life,” Anderson said. “But after a while, I was ready for the next step and decided that it was time to go to college.”

Anderson, who was stationed in Alaska, returned to his hometown to attend Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Due to aptitudes discovered in the military, he decided to major in civil engineering.
“Honestly,” Anderson said, “I like to build things; I think it’s fascinating to create something.”

After graduating in 1996 and looking for full-time employment, he returned to where his Army career had taken him – Alaska.

“It was like a second home to me, so I filled out the application for an engineering intern position with the (USACE) Alaska District,” he said.

Upon completing his internship, Anderson worked as a soils and geology section civil engineer in the geotechnical branch. With the Alaska District, he accomplished field investigations, design analysis and recommendations, as well as construction support. Then in 2002, he came back to Norfolk.

He accepted a project manager position in the district and undertook critical navigation projects within the Port of Hampton Roads and Virginia. Upon promotion to section chief, his obligations proliferated.

Anderson now manages the Norfolk District Navigation Business Line, supervising nine civil engineers and technicians.

“We’ve got the brightest and most gifted minds doing extraordinary work —the mission wouldn’t be successful without our people,” Samms said. “Mike is one of those people.”

It’s been the people, not projects, of which Anderson is most proud.

“I’ve truly enjoyed being a designer and project manager for several high-profile, complex projects in support of the Norfolk District’s Navigation Program – very challenging and rewarding personally,” he said. “However, my greatest contribution has been the opportunity to work with, and in some cases mentor, team members at the district, seeing those teammates grow professionally and accomplish great things.”