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STEM Professional of the week

Lieutenant Colonel Jose Rivera      
United States Air Force

Throughout his 21 years of service in the United States Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Jose L. Rivera has served in positions of increasing responsibility. The typical career progression of a military officer involves alternate assignment between command positions (directly responsible for the mission execution and the health and welfare of those personnel in the command) and staff positions (supporting and setting the conditions for the commander's mission success). LtCol Rivera excelled in every endeavor and continues to excel as indicated by his selection to command the Civil Engineering Squadron at the United States Air Force Academy.

In his most recent assignment with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands-Program, Lt Col Rivera received special language and skills training to serve as an advisor and liaison to Afghan senior leaders during the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Having deployed to Afghanistan twice, his efforts greatly contributed to the growth of Afghan independence of operation and brought them closer to President Obama’s vision of building the Afghan military into a reliable partner with regional mission capacity.

When not deployed, Lt Col Rivera is the Military Deputy for Military Construction in the Programs and Program Management Division at the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Transatlantic Middle East District. In this role, he delivers life-cycle management to U.S./Foreign Government customers in 17 countries and serves as primary reachback support element for all Corps of Engineers operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lt Col Rivera led the efforts to enhance the District Engineering Reachback program in support of the gradual downsizing of the contingency engineering staff. He coordinated the transfer of 600 projects and $263M of work to stateside Districts, thus reducing USACE's Afghanistan footprint and minimizing personnel risk at one third of the cost. His reachback team enabled direct support to the combatant command's security activities in achieving their strategic effects in Afghanistan - the USACE Commanding General's highest priority.

Lt Col Rivera is a teacher, coach, and mentor to civilian and military personnel seeking career advancement whether in the military and/or engineering, math, technology and science fields. He invests in his employees and teammates by offering advice on career timelines and opportunities in the field. He leads by example, builds teams through personal commitment and pushes the teams to deliver results while tapping hidden talents in each member.

Lt Col Rivera is fully engaged in the local community and supports it through youth programs such as the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America and youth sports programs. He is a licensed professional engineer, who graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Old Dominion University in Virginia.

For his heroic and meritorious service, Lt Col Rivera was awarded the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and a Meritorious Service Medal. He was recently honored by Great Minds in STEM with a STEM Military Hero Award during the 26th Annual HENAAC Conference.

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