ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. When colleagues gathered informally to bid farewell to Director Robert “Bob” Pietrowsky, they brought kind words—and enough Diet Coca-Cola® to last him a few hours into retirement. After more than 45 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), with 20 at New York District (NAN) and 25 at the Institute for Water Resources (IWR), including the last 17 years as director, his parting celebration was filled with storytelling remembrances, laughter and good will, and some sadness.
Mr. Pietrowsky received a B.S. in Engineering from Stony Brook University, and an M.S. in Civil Engineering with dual specialties in Water Resources Engineering and Environmental Planning from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He credits USACE for affording him almost “unlimited opportunities for training and advancement, beginning right out of college with the opportunity to jump directly into serving as the study manager for several accelerated post-Hurricane Agnes planning studies in New York District.” After just over four years with USACE, he was honored to be selected for the Planning Associates Program in 1977.
After completing the Planning Associates Program in 1978, Pietrowsky’s planning responsibilities gradually increased, until he became chief of a planning-engineering regional field office. He was quick to note superb mentorship from Sam Tosi at New York District and the late Ed Cohen at North Atlantic Division as central to his career progression. He also noted what a privilege it was to work closely with and learn from Darryl Davis and the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), where he first began to appreciate the exceptional and enduring work of HEC. Bob also noted that he was indebted to USACE for his many assignments involving the leadership of high-performing, multi-disciplinary teams, including future planning leaders that emerged from NAN, such as Let Mon Lee, John Lucyshyn, Henri Langlois, and Pete Blum, who at the time of Bob’s retirement were all still making important contributions to the Army and USACE. Assignments such as these prepared Bob for transferring to the Institute for Water Resources in 1992, with grateful thanks to then-Director Kyle Schilling and Dr. Gene Stakhiv, Chief of Policy and Planning Studies, for the opportunity to join IWR. At IWR, Bob first served as Director of the Federal Infrastructure Strategy program, then as Navigation Analysis Division Chief, and finally as director. Pietrowsky also provided valuable leadership starting in 2008 as the inaugural director of the nation’s International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM), which helped facilitate USACE’s international water resources work.
Mr. Pietrowsky was a charter member of the USACE Executive Development Program for Engineers and Scientists. He’s a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute’s resident leadership program for executives and managers, and has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Federal Executive Board‘s Executive of the Year; Commander’s Award for Civilian Service; Meritorious Civilian Service Award; awards for Planner of the Year (three times) in North Atlantic Division & NAD’s Planning Team of the Year (also three times), and the USACE’s National Planning Team Award. Upon his departure from NAN, he was honored to receive a tribute in the Congressional Record from Congressman Bob Roe, Chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee. And while serving as Director at IWR, Bob was recognized for his leadership and contributions to USACE, the Army and the nation, with USACE’s 2013 LTG John W. Morris Civilian of the Year Award.
He is the principal author of more than thirty planning studies and technical reports for river basins in the northeastern U. S., and more than two dozen IWR reports on a wide range of water resource issues. Mr. Pietrowsky has several times been chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Waterways Committee; was a founding member of ASCE’s Coasts, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute; and has served multiple terms on the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board Committee on Ports and Channels. He also represented USACE and the U.S. on a number of international water boards and committees, including his appointment by the Secretary of the Army to the Permanent Engineering Board for the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty, on which he served 13 years; an appointment by the Secretary of State to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO; and his long service on the U.S. National Committee for the UN’s International Hydrological Program (IHP), while also representing the U.S. on the governing boards for multiple IHP-related institutions around the globe, including the Institute for Water Education in Delft, Netherlands, and the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change in Germany. Bob was a founding member of the Steering Committee for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation.
”With regard to my time at IWR, I can’t imagine a more intellectually stimulating, enjoyable (fun!) career for anyone interested in water resources, with countless people to thank for their counsel and support— including the superbly capable center directors and group managers, and the dedicated folks who served as IWR’s senior manager/deputy director during my tenure—Mike Walsh, Lillian Almodovar, and Dr. Bob Brumbaugh, and for ICIWaRM, Drs. Gene Stakhiv and Will Logan.”
– Bob Pietrowsky
Bob always touted his belief that it’s the talented people who compose IWR and represent the “single most skilled, dedicated, and passionate group of water resources subject experts within USACE” who are responsible for the success of IWR and its centers. He spoke often about his time with USACE, and particularly with IWR, as being a “dream career,” and will continue to do so into retirement. He felt honored to serve as director, and IWR was indeed fortunate to benefit from his dedication and leadership for such a long period.
– From the USACE Family –
Congratulations, Gratitude, and Good Luck to Bob!
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