Each Soldier in the U.S. Army plays a role in maintaining the nation’s security. For Army Capt. Robert M. Burnham, the economic strength of the nation remains secure, as he fulfills his role as an operations manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Navigation Branch, managing dredging-related operations and maintenance projects along the Texas coast.
With nine years under his belt as an active duty Soldier, Burnham has spent the last year applying his expertise in engineering to help maintain more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft, a task that allows vessels to carry critical commodities that contribute to the nation’s economic power.
“I like working on projects that mean something and have a purpose. In the case of my navigation projects with the Corps, there are potential impacts to the local and national economies if we do not deliver,” said Burnham. “Knowing this keeps you on your game, and often times, thinking outside the box to keep projects moving forward for the benefit of the nation.”
On any given day, Burnham can be seen working on a variety of dredging projects, including the Freeport Entrance Channel maintenance job and placement area containment dike raising, the channel to Victoria middle reach maintenance contract and Texas U.S. Coast Guard Stations maintenance project.
He also works on rapid response contracts for hurricane season, ensuring the district is prepared to keep navigation channels open should a hurricane occur.
“I enjoy leading project delivery teams. As an Army officer, leadership has always been an inherent part of my duties,” said Burnham. “Planning, coordinating and executing is what I loved about commanding an engineer company, and it is no different leading teams in the Corps. There are always challenges, but pushing through them and seeing the fruits of your labor is a great feeling and just makes you want to do it again.”
Burnham says his most memorable moment with the USACE Galveston District was stepping on the government-owned hopper dredge Wheeler for the very first time.
“Before then, I had never seen a hopper dredge in person,” said Burnham. “Having the opportunity to not only board the Wheeler, but to be a part of the planning to bring her to Freeport, Texas, was awesome.”
According to Burnham, working with the Corps as an engineer officer is considered a broadening assignment for his rank as an Army captain.