Thirty-one years ago, as a civil engineer summer hire for the Coastal and Geotechnical Engineering Section, Leslie Bush’s primary assignment was oversight of the geotechnical subsurface investigation activities for the west reach of the Little Calumet River, Indiana, Local Flood Protection and Recreation Project.
“I worked on the West Reach subsurface investigation that consisted of soil sampling, use of drill rigs, and soil classification and testing for over 120 boreholes,” she said.
The work required her to ensure the subsurface investigation was performed according to the scope of work, and that boring log documentation was thorough and that all required laboratory testing data was submitted to the district.
A year later, in 1991, when she was hired as a full-time civil engineer in the Coastal and Geotechnical Engineering Section, her first assignment was to complete geotechnical design for levee system components of the same project. For approximately 15 years, she completed geotechnical design and eventually served as a technical lead for numerous sets of plans and specifications.
Yesterday, the district joined Bush in celebrating her retirement and she said that, in her entire stretch here, completing design work, being an effective Value Engineering officer and Quality Program Manager, and executing security manager duties each provided highlights to her career.
“It was very rewarding to carry work from the geotechnical investigation phase to design completion with the award of plans & specifications, to save the district a cumulative of approximately $87 million through use of Value Engineering techniques, and to ensure the district remained compliant with regard to Quality Management and security requirements,” she said.
Other jobs she held included serving as the district’s Quality Program Manager for approximately 20 years, security manager for approximately 13 years, Value Management Program Manager /Value Engineering Officer for approximately 15 years, and specification specialist for five years.
Her degrees include a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago; a master’s degree in range science with a minor in soil science, a bachelor’s degree in forest resources and conservation with a major in range ecosystems management, and minors in soil science and animal science from the University of Florida; work towards a Ph.D. at the New Mexico State University in range hydrology with a minor in soil science; and a Ph.D. in fluvial geomorphology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Bush said she is looking forward to retiring from government service to relax and pursue a new career in the arts, and travel.
And when asked what advice she’d give to a new employee, she said, if possible, participate in at least one deployment like emergency response – and be open to performing other duties as opportunities arise “to broaden your expertise.”
“Assisting with emergency response requires long hours yet rewarding work since you can immediately see how we provide essential products and services to help our fellow citizens during a disastrous time,” she said. “It certainly was an honor and privilege to serve our nation as a USACE employee.”