Given the fast pace of an Army life, many find it daunting to balance academics with their daily work.
Army Maj. Andrew “Drew” Johannes, who hails from Stillwater, Oklahoma, excels in both realms.
Recently recognized as a recipient of the Federal Engineer of the Year Award, an annual award honoring the top engineers employed by federal agencies across the country, Johannes constantly finds new ways to distinguish himself as an engineer.
Johannes currently serves as the battalion executive officer of the 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade here, where he oversees more than 800 soldiers engaged in projects and exercises across the 9,000-mile Indo-Asia Pacific region.
Among his many other credentials, Johannes earned a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on energy storage from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Yet, there is more to Johannes than engineering.
An avid Oklahoma State University football fan, he married Cassie, an OSU soccer player, which may also explain his loyalty to the school. In his free time, he enjoys playing nerf gun battles with his daughter and son.
Johannes said he inherited many of his character traits from his father.
“He is an engineer, has bad hand writing and the same smile,” Johannes said.
Family History of Military Service
In fact, a family legacy of service originally inspired him to join the Army and influenced his decision to choose the engineer branch.
“My great-grandfather served in the Army in World War I as a doctor in Europe. My grandfather served as an engineer and security officer in World War II and was part of the Manhattan Project,” Johannes explained.
Over the course of his 14-year career, his assignments have already taken him around the world and tested his ingenuity in a multitude of settings.
He served as a mechanical engineer researcher for the Engineer Research and Development Center, the Department of Defense’s largest multidisciplinary engineering and research center.
He transitioned from technical engineer to Army engineer planner when he served as the senior engineer for the division-level Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan in 2015. More recently, he served as the primary engineer staff officer for the 130th Engineer Brigade, leading a 26-person construction management and technical engineering team.
“My favorite duty assignment, so far, was being the opposing force company commander for 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany,” Johannes said.
“Being OPFOR during free play allowed me and my soldiers the ability to fight mock battles and engagements without the stress of institutional restraints,” Johannes added. “I gained a different perspective on how we fight and how to think outside the box.”
Many situations throughout his career have highlighted his innovative thinking. Among them was his proudest moment in the military to date.
“I converted a 20-foot milvan into a shower connex and slingloaded it to Forward Operating Base Cobra, Afghanistan in 2004,” he said. “The connex provided 150 soldiers with showers for over a year.”
Johannes said he strives to use his engineering skills to improve the organizations he works for.
In the future, he is looking forward to more opportunities to serve the Department of Defense with his technical engineering skills. This includes pursuing his passion for research by applying to work for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Whether overseeing infrastructure development in Afghanistan as a senior engineer or serving as a researcher to study and integrate new science and technologies for the Army, winning the FEYA points to Johannes’ many contributions as an engineer, with his greatest still to come.