Mr. Jason Cook
M.S. Engineering Management, 2006, Distinguished Graduate
Jason Cook earned his master’s degree from AFIT in engineering management in 2006. He is currently the Deputy Director for the 721st Civil Engineer Squadron at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station (CMAFS) in Colorado.
“I use the information that I learned from my courses at AFIT often, referring back to the techniques I learned and apply them to the problems in my current job. For example, I use Monte Carlo simulations in forecasting, and statistics helps me interpret the information I receive on reliability for our systems, as well as availability modeling to provide professional engineer oversight on our facility’s major systems. It wasn’t just the technical tools I learned at AFIT; AFIT helped me become a leader. You may think that academics can’t help you lead – I can’t imagine anything that is further from the truth. AFIT is really building leaders. What you are taught at AFIT is applicable in the real world. You will use it. You will find that you are constantly going back to it.”
While at AFIT, Cook’s research focused on contingency funding predictions for construction projects. “At the time, the AF was setting aside an arbitrary percentage of money for contingencies that might occur during construction. I went back and looked at 10 years’ worth of data, did some multiple linear regression analysis and built a predictive model for cost overruns on construction projects.”
But it wasn’t all work and no play for Cook. His fondest memories of AFIT are from his time on the sports field with his classmates. “What really makes AFIT a unique experience is the core group of folks that you go through the experience with – it was a complete and immersed experience. The best part was building the comradery and being with those folks for 18 months.”
After earning his master’s degree, Cook moved to AFIT’s Civil Engineer School where he taught continuing education courses where he had the opportunity to teach and guide new AF 2nd Lieutenants. “I left AFIT in 2007 and even today I am still bumping into people I trained back then.” He separated from the AF and moved to CMAFS where he worked in environmental, asset management, and was the operations flight chief before becoming the deputy director.
Cook was a member of the team who received the 2015 Federal Energy and Water Management Award. He is quick to emphasize that winning the award was a team effort. “As the deputy director, my major involvement was to serve as a sounding board for the other team members and enable them to execute their ideas and plans. In an underground facility with stringent reliability requirements, balancing energy reduction with the mission requirements is a real challenge.” The team's efforts reduced energy consumption by 8.5% in FY 2014 as compared to the previous year and 18.4% from the FY 2003 baseline.
To maintain acceptable operating temperatures in CMAFS' hardened underground facility, heat must be actively rejected from the system in a quantity roughly equal to the heat being added, accounting for about 45% of the monthly energy consumption. Special efforts were directed toward reducing "mission" energy consumption and costs while also reducing the costs of rejecting the heat generated by mission-critical activities, including computer equipment upgrades, condenser and chilled water optimization, and installation of a waterside economizer to take advantage of "free cooling."
The most challenging part of Cook’s current job is balancing the mission reliability with the standard civil engineer work load. “An average civil engineer squadron focuses on standard facilities items such as conducting facility inspections and maintaining a clean office building. In addition to those duties, CMAFS has survivability, endurability and reliability requirements. Survivability means we have to be able to ride out an attack without damage; endurability requires us to be able to keep people alive for a period of time without leaving if we have to shut the blast doors; and reliability is ensuring our infrastructure systems do not have outages. We are responsible for 5-9 availability which means we only get 5 minutes and 15 seconds of downtime in a year.”
But it is those engineering challenges that keep Cook excited about his job and working at such a unique facility brings brand new challenges every month. “For example, our chilled water system supports 15 buildings. If there are problems my team has to figure out a way to service the system while it is still operating and supporting those 15 buildings because they all have critical missions that can’t be taken offline. Where else are you going to have a challenge like that? If CMAFS isn’t a unique facility, I don’t know what else would be!”
Cook’s advice for current students is to not wait to start working on their research. “I was one of the ones who took a while to figure out what mattered to me. You need to put in the effort in the beginning to get on the right trajectory so that your success is guaranteed and not in question when you are half way through the program.”