Spotlight on USACE Galveston District’s Mike Nelson

Published Nov. 1, 2013
GALVESTON, Texas (Nov. 1, 2013) – Michael Nelson, civil engineering technician in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s General Engineering Section, never could have predicted that an injury would be the primary catalyst that led him to pursue a field he has enjoyed for the last 30 years.

“Due to an injury before high school, it was suggested I take a drafting class in lieu of a physical education class,” said Nelson. “I took to that work very quickly and once I graduated I began summer classes at College of the Mainland in Texas City, then was soon accepted into the district’s Youth Onboard/COOP program and finally moved up to a full-time permanent position as an engineering technician in the Drafting Section.”

Fast forward 30 years and Nelson now manages the district’s computer aided-design (CAD) files, which are being migrated to ProjectWise (a software application that is used to manage, organize and store CAD files and data). He is also responsible for providing the final review of CAD plans for contracts and the final assembly of review before advertising district plans and specifications.

“I enjoy the variety in my job and I also like having the opportunity to play a role in ensuring the district puts its best foot forward concerning the quality and consistency of our projects,” said Nelson.

One such project entails updating the district’s CAD standards on the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay, Texas Coastal Storm Risk Management and Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study, which will investigate storm damage reduction and ecosystem restoration alternatives along six counties of the upper Texas coast: Galveston, Harris, Brazoria, Jefferson, Chambers and Orange. This region is home to more than five million people, three of the nation’s top 10 deep-draft ports and 40 percent of the nation’s petrochemical industry.

“I prepared numerous maps using our channel and placement area information overlaid on Google Earth imagery to supplement those prepared by others using the district’s GIS system,” said Nelson. “I also streamlined the process of assembling data to maintain consistency across the reports.”

Nelson explains that one of most appealing aspects of this job has been the changing technology that has occurred in his field over the course of three decades.

“I’ve always heard the expression ‘find what you like to do and make a career out of it,’ and that’s pretty much what I have done,” said Nelson. “I also like the ability to streamline processes and make our jobs a little easier. The changing technology has allowed me to provide this support to my colleagues, stakeholders and partner agencies.”

In 1990, he received an award for his suggestion to implement a cost-saving measure that increased performance and saved the district more than $10,000. He continued to receive accolades for his work, earning a total of 45 awards to include the 2013 Employee of the Year for his outstanding work ethic and dedication while planning and coordinating all CAD drawings for the district’s projects.

An invaluable asset to the district, Nelson continues to improve efficiency with the development of a scheduling tool that works in concert with existing planning tools to allow engineers to meet project deadlines and chart progress while working on projects; all of which contributes to the improvement of acquisition processes, competencies and efficient project delivery.

When not at work, he is engaged in a variety of hobbies ranging from fishing to woodworking and enjoys spending time with his wife and family.

For more information about the district’s Engineering Section visit For news and information, visit Find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter,