Winning designs improve quality of life

by Senior Airman Amanda DickRamstein Public Affairs

Winning one Air Force-level award can seem like a feat in and of itself; winning two awards at the same time is extraordinary.

One Ramstein mechanical engineer assigned to the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron recently achieved the exceptional honor of receiving two Air Force awards.
German local national Peter Heinrich received two Design Excellence Awards at the U.S. Air Force Design Award Program July 23 in Washington, D.C., for his efforts on the Southside Fitness Center and the Aquatic Center on Ramstein.

“We, my design team, which included architects, did our very best to create an excellent facility for Ramstein by creating optimized floor plans and using, for example, sandstone facades and other architectural features,” Mr. Heinrich said.
Born and raised in Kaiserslautern, the design team program manager and contracting officer said he was influenced by his engineer father to become a mechanical engineer, but the passion for it came all from him.

“It always seemed very interesting to me to work with technical equipment,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer early on.”

Mr. Heinrich’s road to becoming an engineer started when he graduated from the mechanical engineer program, which is equivalent to a masters degree, at a German university in Kaiserslautern and then began working with the Air Force. After graduating in 1976, he began working as a store manager for a supermarket while he was looking for an engineering job. It wasn’t until 1977 that a position opened up with the Air Force at Ramstein. And, because 1977 was a slow year in the engineering career field in Germany, Mr. Heinrich decided to pursue the position.

Since then, he has been responsible for military construction projects totaling more than $250 million. Some of the notable projects he has worked on include: the new child development centers, the enlisted club, new dormitories, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Expeditionary Compound, including the 1st Combat Communications Squadron building, and, more recently, the Southside Fitness Center and the Aquatic Center.

“The Aquatic Center is fantastic,” said Carol Cox, 86th Services Squadron Outdoor Recreation director. “The facility is one of the best I’ve seen. It offers a great open space. There is plenty of room inside and out for classes and for family and friends to get together.”

Besides bringing design ideas to the table, Mr. Heinrich also adds stability to a job that is constantly revolving.

“He brings a lot of continuity to our job,” said Capt. Jorge Lopez, 86th CES chief of construction management. “With military members constantly deploying, it’s nice to have a constant here. He can provide knowledge about projects, and it’s easier to work with a person who has knowledge and history rather than reading it from a document.”

When it comes down to it, Mr. Heinrich just plain enjoys his job.

“I think being recognized by the Air Force is great. It gives you motivation to continue with your work and effort,” he said. “I still think the job is interesting and going to work every day is not a pain. It’s difficult and a challenge daily, but there are many things that can be accomplished for the Air Force.”