NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 20, 2015) – Jim Graham, electrical engineer in the Engineering and Construction Division Civil Design Branch, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s Employee of the Month for June 2015.
Graham is recognized for his significant contributions and demonstrated professionalism, innovation and electrical engineering expertise when Olmsted Lock’s emergency bulkhead electronic control system experienced operational malfunctions that damaged equipment and created a major safety hazard.
“Jim helped out immediately, despite an already heavy workload for this district, and his demeanor and technical skills so impressed Louisville District leadership that they requested him to return and implement the solution,” said Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District Commander. “He did so and completed the programming of the controls, conducted the on-site start-up and the commissioning, and then trained the operators. The equipment is now safe and functioning.”
Graham volunteered to evaluate the hardware, software, drawings and even the processes in place to raise and lower the bulkhead, which weighs 80 tons. He wrote a report that included his findings and recommendation to redesign and reprogram the control system with safety features. The solutions resulted in a safer and more efficient working environment at the lock located at river mile 964.4 of the Ohio River on the border between Illinois and Kentucky, just east of Olmsted, Ill.
He said the work at Olmsted Lock attracted him because of his background in industrial automation, which is used to operate the bulkhead.
“I jumped at the opportunity. To me it’s like playing with an electric train set,” Graham said. “I love doing startups and commissioning and troubleshooting problems – that’s my favorite thing.”
In the Nashville District, Graham is part of a team in the Civil Design Branch that is responsible for designing and managing rehabs of the district’s locks, and for reviewing specifications and plans for the hydropower rehabilitation program.
Mark Kuhlo, section supervisor for the Nashville District’s Electrical and Mechanical Design Section, said Graham joined the Corps in 2010 to be the lead engineer on the hydropower rehabilitation program.
“But, once we realized his full potential we also provided him assignments ranging from recalibrating Martins Fork Dam's sluice gate position indicators to as complex the electrical rehabs of multiple locks on the Tennessee River. All of his work has been exceptionally executed, on time, and within budget,” Kuhlo said.
Kuhlo noted that with Graham’s 30 years of experience as a control specialist in private industry and ability to work on design controls, he was well suited to perform the work at Olmsted Lock for the Louisville District.
“When I assigned him the task I had all the confidence in the world that his support to Olmsted would be a great success,” Kuhlo said. “It’s people like Jim that have helped make Nashville one of the Corps of Engineers’ best design districts. I’m sure everyone in the district is proud to have him as a part of the team.”
Graham said he is glad he had the chance to go to Olmsted Lock because of its unique automation features and because it was rewarding to contribute to fixing the bulkhead so it would operate more efficiently and safely.
“It’s really nice that your work is recognized as being outstanding,” Graham said. “I was really pleased.”
Murphy said Graham represents what makes the Nashville District great – “hard working, competent, and caring employees who answer a call for help – wherever it may come from within the Corps’ family – with timely and innovative solutions.”
Graham is a native of Harrodsburg, Ky., and has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. His hobbies include farming and gardening, woodworking and fishing.
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