It didn’t take long for the new commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District to adopt local colloquialisms.
“I’m proud to be the newest member of the Pittsburgh District. Yinz have my commitment,” said Col. Adam Czekanski, a native of New York, after assuming command over the Pittsburgh District.
The crowd laughed at his perfectly-timed use of the Pittsburgh-colloquial “yinz.” Audience members also smiled as Czekanski quoted the famed Steelers coach, Chuck Noll, as part of a speech to his championship team.
“The single most important thing we have was the ability to work together,” Czekanski said.
Col. Adam J. Czekanski became the 56th commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District through a traditional Army change of command ceremony held at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, July 29.
“I will always give you my best effort. I’ll support you in any way possible to sustain our reputation of being a world-class organization,” said Czekanski as he concluded his speech.
As commander of Pittsburgh District, Czekanski oversees the district’s 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigational locks and dams, 16 reservoirs, and more than 80 local-flood damage-reduction projects across five states: Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Additionally, Czekanski oversees the district’s varied-but-vital civil works missions such as disaster response, environmental stewardship, recreation and hydropower.
Czekanski holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Science Degree in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering from the University of Texas. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and a certified Project Management Professional.
Assuming the role as Pittsburgh District’s commander is Czekanski’s fourth assignment with the Corps of Engineers. However, his assignment to the district is not his first with the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. He formerly served as commander for the Buffalo District, the operations officer for the South Pacific Division, and deputy district commander for the San Francisco District.
“Col. Czekanski brought a unique understanding and perspective to tackle some of the most difficult engineering challenges along the lower watershed of lakes Erie and Ontario during his time at Buffalo,” said Andrew Kornacki, Czekanski’s former public affairs officer at Buffalo District. “The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division and the region will benefit greatly from Col. Czekanski’s leadership during his command as Pittsburgh District’s commander.”
Col. Kimberly Peeples, commander for the Ohio Lakes and River Division, commended Czekanski during the ceremony.
“Success in this unique and challenging command requires the Army’s best,” said Peeples. “Col. Czekanski brings extensive experience to the corps, and he is the right leader at the right time for this job.”
Czekanski assumed command from Col. Andrew J. Short, who served as commander since July 2018.
During Short’s time as commander, he oversaw a number of the district’s accomplishments, including the completion of a $250 million megaproject to install a cutoff wall at East Branch Clarion River Lake; transitioned more than 650 district personnel from normal operations to a COVID-19 work environment; and awarded more than $22.9 million in contracts for the construction or maintenance of community flood-protection projects.
In his remarks, Short praised the district’s staff for their work during his three years at Pittsburgh District.
“While this ceremony appears to be commemorating me, my accomplishments are no more important than the lock operator pulling a ship at two in the morning or the electrical engineer working overtime on a lock project,” said Short. “Each person has a role, and this district’s success depends on every person working in the Upper Ohio River Valley.”
As the arriving district engineer, Czekanski inherits a workforce of technical and functional experts tasked with accomplishing civil works missions that directly and indirectly improve the lives of the district’s 5.5 million residents.
Czekanski’s military awards and decorations include the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star Medal (three awards), the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), the Army Commendation Medal (two awards), the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (two awards), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Sapper Tab, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.