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Aiming high from the foundation up

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th Wing

Building from the ground up brings a new meaning to aiming high and is what you will find Structural Airmen accomplishing out in the wild blue yonder. Structural is an integral part of Air Force operations constructing, repairing, and building from the foundation.

Airman 1st Class Evan Offie is a structural journeyman in the 168th Wing Civil Engineering Squadron, learning the trade and serving in the Air National Guard.

“I joined to learn the skills for personal use, and there is a lot of potentials,” said Offie. I don’t necessarily have a specific plan, but I figure you can’t go wrong having the abilities and skills.” 

Civil engineering structural craftsman use their distinctive capabilities and specialized material, tools, and equipment to build anything anywhere the mission requires.

“Carpentry, concrete, drywall, installing trim, foundations and walls, and welding are a few examples of what the job entails,” said Offie. “There is so much you can learn over the years. There are specialties such as three types of mastery in welding. Repairing and installing locks is another area to learn as well.”

Offie shared that masters in the career field spend many years in one career field mastering their specialties. He said, “I am able to learn a wide range of skills and learn more about each area.”

Since he has been in the Air Guard, Offie has worked on installing carpet, ceiling tiles, building walls for additional office spaces, and involved in planning construction and concrete projects for upcoming training.

“The entire skillset is challenging but also cool to be able to build from the foundation to a finished house or building,” said Offie. “Not to say we would be building whole buildings on a regular basis, but we would have opportunities to learn and master the trade.”

The Civil Engineering Structural career field builds anything needed to accomplish the mission to include emergency disaster relief shelters. They often build, repair, and renovate at home stations, deploy overseas and respond during emergency relief missions.

These professionals are responsible for performing carpentry and masonry, including sheet metal, wood, and welding. They are involved in many parts of each structure, including pouring foundations, building floor slabs, walls, roofs, steps, doors, and windows.

The Air National Guard has also helped build with mission partners overseas as a part of the State Partnership Program. Structural Airmen could be involved in building or repairing hospitals or schools.

“I didn’t grow up doing anything like this,” said Offie. “My dad taught me a lot about music as he was a musician. I have enjoyed learning and working in unique career fields because of what I learned from him. The Guard is a new opportunity for me.”

Currently, Offie is attending a five-level school in Georgia to build upon his on-the-job training at the wing.

 “I was attracted to the career field knowing I would be exposed to the many skills the career field has to offer, said Offie. “I was planning to join the Air Guard and learned of the CE mission. There were a few jobs I had a background in, but this was something I didn’t have experience in. I picked this career field to get these skills for myself."