Three inducted into Waterways Experiment Station Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees

Published 9:50 am Monday, July 31, 2023

A new group of U.S. Army Engineer and Research Development Center (ERDC) retirees were recently celebrated for their contributions and enshrined into the agency’s most esteemed collective in Vicksburg.

Dr. Alfred Cofrancesco, Patti Duett and Dr. William Grogan were inducted into the Waterways Experiment Station (WES) Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees during the agency’s Induction Ceremony on July 27 at the ERDC Headquarters Auditorium.

The achievement is the highest honor a former ERDC-WES site employee could accomplish, and the newest inductees bring the total number of gallery members to 116.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (WES) in Vicksburg was the nation’s first federal hydraulics research facility and was created because of the 1927 Mississippi River Flood. WES was established in 1929 to provide research support and has since transformed research in the United States.

Dr. David Pittman, ERDC director, applauded the inductees’ accomplishments and credited them for their impact on the agency’s growth.

“We are proud to honor the career accomplishments and legacies of three individuals who define what it means to be the best of the best,” Pittman said. “These three have helped pave the way for the rest of us and have set the bar very high.”

Cofrancesco retired in 2020 as technical director for ERDC’s environmental engineering and sciences Civil Works portfolio with more than 40 years of service. Cofrancesco served as the senior advisor to the director of the Environmental Laboratory (EL) on civil environmental engineering and sciences research and development topics affecting EL and ERDC research programs.

The honor, for Cofrancesco, is one he said he cherishes, as it places him among some of the agency’s most heralded former leaders.

“I am humbled and honored to have been selected,” Cofrancesco said. “I am humbled to be associated with such an elite group of individuals who have contributed so much to WES, ERDC, the Corps of Engineers and our nation. I’m honored to receive this significant award.”

Patti Duett retired from the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) in 2021 after 30 years of service. Duett dedicated her career to ensuring ITL and ERDC were at the forefront of technical achievements.

Duett’s work played a vital role in the success of the laboratory and serves as the foundation on which its future is being built. In 2014, Duett was named ITL deputy director, where she established and executed the ITL Facility Improvement Plan. This effort ensured the laboratory would have premier facilities to support research and development for decades to come.

Climbing the ranks at the agency allowed Duett opportunities to develop professionally and make connections that would last a lifetime, something for which she said she’s grateful.

“I have learned lifelong lessons and made enduring friendships,” Duett said. “I also take great pride in being part of an organization that leads the way in cutting-edge research, making our nation a better and safer place to live. I am grateful and humbled to be a part of such a distinguished gallery of employees who have made significant contributions and advancements to a world-class organization.”

Grogan, the first ERDC chief of staff, retired in 2020 after 36 years of service. Grogan helped build and strengthen relationships within organizational elements by developing, executing, and supporting engagements, site visits and other collaborative efforts across ERDC. In this position, he coordinated and managed the activities of the ERDC director to ensure efficient and productive business functions.

Grogan also advised the ERDC director on the progress of projects, reviewing, summarizing and helping maximize productivity by attending to details while staying attuned to the macro vision of ERDC.

Grogan said being honored makes him proud of his decision to dedicate his services to the agency.

“Getting this honor fills my heart with joy,” Grogan said. “The honor of being inducted into the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees is confirmation that spending my career serving our nation was a good decision. I really enjoyed my job. Other opportunities came along, but I wanted to stay here because the mission of this organization is important. We have an impact on the nation. It was fulfilling to be a part of that mission.”