It is easy to understand why Pikeville, Tennessee native Jason Anderson was nominated for and awarded the USDA Forest Service’s 2017 Technical Engineer of the Year.
Anderson is the Southern Research Station’s assistant station engineer. He received the award for his accomplishments in implementing new engineering technologies and his development of long-term research infrastructure for invasive plants and insects that directly supports the USDA Strategic Goals.
“Being nominated for such award is a great honor in and of itself, and actually being selected is beyond words,” says Anderson. “I will be the first to admit that none of the accomplishments cited were mine alone. This award is for a great group of dedicated colleagues within SRS, the broader Forest Service, and beyond that contribute every day in countless ways to make amazing things happen. I am deeply appreciative for the opportunities to pursue such interesting and impactful work with SRS and the Forest Service.”
Anderson collaborated with partners to ensure research in the management and control of invasive insects and plants will continue for the next 30+ years. He worked with SRS, the University of Georgia, and USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) scientists to convert an underutilized storage facility into a state-of-the-art insect quarantine laboratory.
The new invasive insect quarantine laboratory will support research on the efficacy and safety of potential biological control agents. This will greatly enhance the agency’s capacity to support safer and more cost-effective biological controls for invasive insects in the U.S. and other countries.
“Jason is one of the most technologically proficient engineers in the agency, and he is very deserving of this award,” said Mark McDonough, SRS station engineer. “He is always pursuing new avenues to improve his technical and leadership skills. And what amazes me the most is that his motivation for learning is not for personal accomplishment but rather to make the agency’s engineering program more successful.”
Anderson was also the national engineering team co-lead on a project to implement new technologies in engineering programs. His team’s initiative led to an increase in the utilization of the Natural Resource Manager (NRM), a system of database tools for managing agency data.
He personally developed video tutorials on importing NRM data into Google Earth for basic mapping. He also assisted with the development of basic asset visualization tools in Google Earth and ArcGIS that have proven useful for orientation to the Forest Service and its varied assets at all levels of the organization.
To ease a data management burden, Anderson developed a more automated process for transferring bulk data from the Ameresco AXIS utility management database to EnergyStar Portfolio Manager, saving around two weeks of data processing time annually. Over the past five years, it’s estimated that the engineering projects he’s managed have saved more than one million kilowatt hours and $150,000 annually in energy and water costs.
“As assistant station engineer, my duties include general engineering program management as well as project planning, design, and oversight for a variety of facilities construction and renovation and civil engineering projects,” says Anderson.
Anderson has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, Environmental Management from Virginia Polytechnic University and a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Tennessee Technological University. He began his Forest Service career in 2002 on the Daniel Boone National Forest, and after making a couple of stops on the Apalachicola and White Mountain National Forests, he joined SRS as the assistant station engineer in 2010.