Integrity Engineer Chris Kobilan Returns Safely From Active Duty In Afghanistan

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Chris Kobilan, pipeline integrity engineer with American Innovations, recently returned from active military duty in Afghanistan after a tour that began in March 2009.
  While in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Kobilan managed his U.S. Army Reserve battalion’s maintenance program. This included overseeing all maintenance operations, equipment recovery operations, safety, equipment repairs and 400 maintenance personnel. He succeeded in keeping his battalion’s operational readiness above 97%, even with battle damaged equipment and equipment failures.
  During an interview with P&GJ, Kobilan enthusiastically said, “I am grateful to be back home and glad to live in the USA!”
  He was also willing to respond to the following questions regarding his deployment.
  Q. What was your most positive experience in Afghanistan?
  A. I think the greatest experience is the teamwork that is united by a common goal to complete our assigned missions and bring everyone home alive. In the grand scale, this is all that matters.
  Q. Can you briefly describe what your duties were during your recent deployment?
  A. As a warrant officer I planned, advised, coordinated, and managed the maintenance policies and execution of equipment maintenance activities of several subordinate units for both armored and cargo trucks valued in excess of $700 million. In addition, I was responsible for inspecting maintenance activities and procedures for efficiency of operations in subordinate units, serving as a liaison with the appropriate supporting services, and ensuring environmental protection procedures, safety programs and inspections were established and followed by all personnel. I also served as an advisor for both the brigade and battalion managers on all maintenance matters.
  Q. Are there similarities in the job you did in Afghanistan and your job with American Innovations?
  A. Yes. My position as a maintenance officer involved working with people to resolve critical logistic problems, advising managers of maintenance issues which impacted missions, and developing solutions rapidly. I also made certain the proper environmental and safety procedures were in place where necessary. As an engineer with AI, it’s also critical to develop a solid working rapport with people to develop solutions and complete each project efficiently. Both overseas and as an integrity engineer, I assisted and advised on the safe implementation and operation of equipment: in the military, my focus was on the safe and effective use of military equipment; at American Innovations, it’s on pipeline infrastructure.
  Q. What are some of the important lessons you learned during your deployment that you would like to share with others?
  A. As leaders, we need to impress upon our friends and coworkers that we must be good stewards of money and the environment. We must be proactive to optimize resources and save funds, but just as important is protecting our environment and utilizing technology for safe operations.
  Q. Your employer, American Innovations, was recently recognized for going above and beyond the legal requirements for granting leave and providing support for military duty for employees. What can you tell us about that and how beneficial granting leaves and providing support for military duty personnel has been for you?
  A. The support I received was truly a blessing. Periodically, I received emails asking how I was doing from both my manager, Mike Lamont, and President, Jennie Hoff.  Additionally, the people I work with sent care packages with goodies and coffee while I was over there. This was such a huge morale booster and was shared with many service members! It simply shows that folks at home care.
  Q. Where did you grow up and what brought you into pipeline corrosion protection and integrity management services sector?
  A. I grew up on a dairy farm near Calhan, CO. I relocated to Denver, CO and worked in the automotive industry, then decided to further my education by pursuing an engineering degree at Colorado University. My emphasis was in mechanical design and I further studied chemistry and metallurgy. I gained experience with an oil field services company as a fracturing engineer. Finally, I accepted a position with American Innovations as a pipeline integrity engineer. In this position, I am able to utilize my knowledge and experience to assist pipeline operators identify areas of interest and resolve critical issues.