Celebrating SAME Members for Black History Month 2023

In celebration of Black History Month, SAME will be spotlighting the contributions and achievements of African-Americans in the military engineering and A/E/C industry. Throughout the entire month, SAME will be highlighting stories from our members on our website and social media. Follow along with the hashtags #BlackHistoryMonth and #SAMECelebrates.

SAME chatted with a few of its members about what their career journeys have been like, the professional accomplishments they are the most proud of, and advice they would share with other members of the profession. Read on for their insights and be inspired by their accomplishments!

Cameron Bowsky, P.E.

Senior Consultant, Matrix Design Group

Since building his first set of Legos as a child, Cameron dreamed of becoming an engineer. Later in life, he followed in his uncle’s footsteps and pursued his education at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In his six years with the Air Force, Cameron provided engineering support to Global Strike Command in Barksdale, La., that ramped up ongoing construction activities from 30 projects to over 160. Now in civil service, he is grateful for the opportunity to serve national security interests in an even more diverse way. Looking back at his various leadership opportunities over the last decade, he said that all of his most memorable professional accomplishments are unquestionably personal ones as well because they involve people. “Seeing others overcome immense obstacles, grow into the men and women they’ve dreamed of being, and connecting in deep meaningful ways with others is one of life’s most profound and rewarding experiences,” he said. His three key words for success are humility, empathy, and discipline.

Christian Ward

Business Development Director, Osprey Management

Christian’s professional journey began when he enlisted into the U.S. Air Force. During his time in uniform, he gained valuable experience working on the B-2 stealth bomber and grew a skillset that helped him gain a position in cybersecurity as a contractor for the U.S. Marine Corps after separating from military service. He currently works as a Business Development Director for Osprey Management and was recognized with the Young Professional of the Year award by the Atlanta Post in 2022. When asked what advice he would share for people thinking of entering the A/E/C community, he encouraged them to approach and embrace the willingness for challenge and change and to be a service to others. “With a dedication to personal and professional growth, and a commitment to serving the greater good, one can thrive and make meaningful contributions in this field,” he said.

Melvin Williams, F.SAME

Vice President/Senior Client Development Manager, Terracon

Over his 25-plus year career of working in the engineering industry, Melvin has led leadership roles on the local, state, and national levels. He noted that he was fortunate to work for a company that believes in investing in its employees and has provided him the resources and time to pursue and thrive in his various leadership positions. He was elected as the Senior Vice Chair of the Executive Committee for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and is a Fellow in both ACEC and SAME. He encourages anyone thinking of entering the engineering profession, saying that it is very fulfilling to serve an essential part of society and solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.

Robin Thorne

President/CEO, CTI Environmental

As a chemical engineer out of college, Robin began working in manufacturing and then regulatory compliance before founding her own environmental and engineering firm in 2009. Since then, she has assisted numerous companies with reducing their risks and minimizing their liability while helping them execute their projects safely and on budget. After a project to demolish a federal prison, Robin was inspired to launch the nonprofit DemoChicks, which introduces girls to nontraditional careers such as the construction trades, STEM fields, and demolition. She was recently inducted into Drexel University’s College of Engineering’s Circle of Distinction and would encourage people thinking about joining the profession to reach out and not be afraid of asking questions. “There are people willing to help and assist if they know that you are committed to your success.”

1st. Sgt. Shane Payne, USA

526th Engineer Construction Company

As a uniformed servicemember in the Army for 17 years, Shane has had an opportunity to work on many significant construction projects worldwide, as well as serve as a mentor to individuals at various levels. He believes it’s his mission to tell his story to inspire others and see how he can be of service to others, and in 2018 he was recognized for his outstanding contributions with the SAME Sturgis Medal. He encourages anyone in the engineering field to join SAME in order to gain leadership experience outside your branch of service, have an opportunity to talk with professionals both within and outside your profession, and build many healthy relationships. “I love being an engineer and being a part of such a great Society.”

Nye Jones

Equity and Social Justice, CRS Business Partner, WSP USA

Nye always had a passion for people and technology. During her undergrad years, she studied computer science. Working in technology for most of her career, she was often the only woman and Black person on her team, which propelled her to see how she could help organizations cultivate a sense of belonging and create an environment for everyone to succeed. This insightfulness led her to pursue her studies in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at Cornell University and the University of South Florida, eventually joining the National Diversity Council and becoming a Certified Diversity Professional through their certification program. What she loves most about making this career shift is the opportunity it provides her to help individuals, teams, and organizations succeed. For her efforts, she was recognized on the cover edition of the “The 10 Most Inspiring Businesswoman Making a Difference, 2022.” She encourages other members to work toward creating more dialogue, inclusion, and empowerment and make time for joy, laughter, humor, and gratitude. “Allow excellence to build influence that creates opportunities for present and future generations,” she said.

Col. Eric Potts, F.SAME, USA (Ret.)

Account Director, Freese and Nichols
Pearland, TX

Eric was inspired by his father, who was an Air Force non-commissioned officer. Upon his graduation from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1973 and his commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was proud to render his first salute to a non-commissioned officer: his dad. In his 27-year career in the Army, he held positions such as commander of the 23rd Engineer Battalion 1st Armor Division and commander of the USACE Galveston District, and was recognized with the German Silver Cross for his work with the German Army Partnership. After his retirement, he was appointed by the Secretary of Transportation to serve on the Airport Cooperative Research Program Oversight Committee and was also given an opportunity to serve as the Interim Director of Aviation for the City of Houston-Houston Airport System. Outside of work, he is involved in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as their Lifetime Director and Past Chairman of the Steer Auction Committee, which has contributed over $575 million to Texas youth and education since 1932. He is also involved in CYCLE Houston, which rewards students for better academic performance with new bicycles and has donated over 180,000 bikes to children in Houston and surrounding areas. He says, “To accomplish any mission, we all must utilize the knowledge and skills we have and be open to accepting new duties and challenges that will allow us some kind of measurable growth.”