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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2024

Hard work of depot engineers spotlighted during Engineers Week

By Mr. Justin Kucharski, Mr. Nicolo Manzo and Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) recently observed Engineers Week from February 18-24 by shining a spotlight on some of our outstanding engineers.

TYAD Electrical Engineer Oumar Traore wanted to come to the U.S. to pursue a higher education in the hopes of becoming an engineer.

Growing up in Mali in western Africa, Traore’s interest in engineering was piqued at an early age through his father’s example.

“My Dad is an engineer, so when I was little, I would see him working on engineering projects. I said as soon as I grow up, I want to be like him,” said Traore.

With his parents’ blessing and his academic and professional aspirations in tow, Traore’s American journey as an international student began in 2002 in Arizona at a local community college.

As one may imagine, arriving to a new country halfway across the world alone as a young man comes with its challenges. Scarce part-time work in Arizona and a language barrier for the French-speaking Traore were two of those hurdles.

After his brief stay in Arizona, Traore spent time in two major American cities. Traore spent two years in New York City balancing learning a new language, school and work before moving to Baltimore. Traore spent over a decade in Baltimore, graduating from Baltimore City Community College with a 3.8 grade point average and earning a scholarship to Morgan State University. Traore later earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Morgan State.

In 2016, two of Traore’s friends informed him of an opening at TYAD. Traore began his work on the depot as a contractor before becoming a member of TYAD’s civilian workforce four years later. As an Electrical Engineer, Traore’s typical day involves writing test procedures and providing technical support to technicians testing a system’s functionality and overseeing overhaul and repair programs for various shelters.

Traore said he appreciates the opportunity to give back to a country in which he has achieved success.

“I wanted to join the civilian workforce to give back to this country,” said Traore. “Providing the best quality product to the warfighter is something to be proud of.”

In order to ensure a product up to the TYAD standard, Traore espouses two values every day.

“I have two values – I come to work with dedication and hard work. I’m a hard worker because of what I came from; I take pride in being dedicated and working hard.”

While Traore’s parents still reside in Mali, he is far from alone. Traore has two sons and a daughter and is married to his wife, who is also originally from Mali.

When not putting his brain to work at TYAD, he enjoys playing chess online with friends.

Electronics Engineer Jessica Crispim brings a wealth of interdisciplinary knowledge to Tobyhanna’s engineering cadre. The California State University graduate has a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics – an emerging field that integrates the principles of electronics, electrical and mechanical engineering within the field of robotics, creating more functional and efficient products.

She uses her diverse experience to support the Satellite Transportable Terminal, a mobile satellite system that establishes secure voice, video and data communications. A native of Brazil, Crispim became excited about the prospects of an engineering career during a vocational immersion training.

“Our school career day brought in professionals from a variety of industries, and one of the representatives was responsible for machinery at a Coca-Cola plant. When I heard that his job in mechatronics related to figuring out how things work, I was hooked.”

Crispim came to the U.S. for college, where she found that the mechatronics field was directly aligned with her interest and skills.

“I like coming up with creative solutions to problems, and helping others address their challenges,” she explained.

After graduation, Jessica joined Team Tobyhanna’s Production Engineering directorate – a place she says is a great learning environment.

“We have a small team that works really well together. My colleagues are very patient and are always willing to help explain new concepts to me.”

Knowing that women (and especially Latinx women) are underrepresented in technical fields, Crispim is passionate about helping demystify engineering as a profession for young women. She volunteers for career fairs where she can share her experiences as an engineer, and encourage others to purse a career in the STEM field.

“Representation matters,” she said. “I feel as if young women in particular are discouraged from STEM jobs because of math. There is so much more to engineering besides math, and girls can do math, too!”

In her free time, Jessica enjoys spending time with her loved ones – including her three rescue guinea pigs.

Mechanical Engineer Joseph Chieffallo plays an important role at TYAD. Upon joining Team Tobyhanna through the Pathways Program in 2018, he was brought around different departments within TYAD’s Production Engineering directorate so he can see how different divisions amongst his branch cooperate. He was offered a full-time position after graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 2019.

Chieffallo described himself as a tinkerer of sorts. He said from a young age, he had always been good with numbers and liked understanding how things work and move. Needless to say, developing an interest in engineering only seemed natural.

Since beginning his depot career nearly six years ago, he has gone on to play key roles in supporting the Sea Sparrow, which is a weapons defense system for Navy ships, along with fabrication in support of overhaul (FISO) projects and TYAD’s Equipage Branch.

Chieffallo said much of his time is spent working on the structural side of things, but his work sometimes calls for a bit of crossover in other engineering disciplines when working with heat exchange and electrical components. He said the broadness of the positions allows him to develop a kind of jack-of-all-trades characteristic.

Chieffallo went into detail on his fabrication work, explaining how he can develop new fabrication data so that Tobyhanna can make new parts or replace something that is either broken or missing on an asset.

“Take for example an overhaul system that is 40 or 50 years old. The technology doesn’t go away, but the way we make things changes a bit. The machines we use now are more accurate and more precise than something that we have been using to make the same part years ago,” said Chieffallo. “When we have a more accurate machine it lets us build something in an easier way. There’s less setup, less fixturing, and less cost involved. What I try to do is take parts that maybe are made one way, modify them, and update them so that it works best with our machines in the shop.”

Chieffallo added that being an engineer at TYAD is a uniquely gratifying experience and feels his position allows him to make an impact across the installation.

“For me, TYAD is a place where I can solve problems. It’s great to see a previous project that I worked on in use across the depot even when the project’s initial problems had me scratching my head,” said Chieffallo. “I also find satisfaction in making other people’s lives easier as doing so gives me a reason to be proud of the work I do. My current position puts me in contact with a wide array of personnel, so I feel as though I have plenty of opportunity to make a difference all across the depot.”

Fabrication Engineering Branch Chief Michael Evans lauded Chieffallo for his work ethic and dedication to TYAD’s mission.

“Joe has excelled as a Mechanical Engineer in the Fabrication Engineering Branch, and he has continued to take on more responsibility and challenging assignments during his tenure with the branch. In his primary role in support of the Sea Sparrow and RAM programs, Joe has established TYAD as a source of supply for some of the most complex system-level components and developed technical data to support the fabrication of these components at TYAD for current and future project demands,” said Evans. “His daily presence in TYAD production areas has helped to quickly address in-process concerns and keep projects on schedule. Joe’s commitment to both internal/external customers and versatility in his position have made him a valuable asset to the Production Engineering Directorate for future assignments.”

The technical expertise of Team Tobyhanna’s engineers is integral to its mission and long-range strategic plan, TOBY2035, which has four focus areas: Investing in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications. TOBY2035 aims to posture the depot for success in the coming years as the Department of Defense's premier worldwide C5ISR readiness provider.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,100 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.