2013 Excellence in Achievement by a Recent Graduate Award


Josh Aldred

Award Criteria: This award recognizes a young alumnus/alumna who has achieved outstanding success in their professional career in a relatively short amount of time. Service to NAU or the NAU Alumni Association is not a requirement. Nominees must have graduated within the last 10 years. Alumni of both graduate and undergraduate degrees are eligible for this award.

Graduated: 2003 BSE in Civil Engineering

Full-time PhD Student in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, Professional Engineer, U.S. Air Force

Most influential figures: Lt. Col. retired Sam Elliott ’91 BS & ’01 MA, Dr. Craig Roberts, Dr. Charlie Schlinger, Dr. Earl Duque, and campus minister Marc Hill

Favorite memories: Sledding down the slope on the practice football fields after a fresh snow, playing foosball at the ROTC detachment (purported to develop good piloting skills), and his ROTC commissioning and graduation. Josh also spent a considerable amount of time studying at Late for the Train downtown. 

With 10 years of experience as a civil engineer for the U. S. Air Force, Flagstaff, Arizona native Josh has seen three overseas deployments, including service in Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar and Oman. In 2009, he served as chief of design with the 819th RED HORSE Squadron for all projects in the Middle East. He was responsible for 62 projects valued at $103 million, including the design of two $40 million airfields. He was site commander of Forward Operating Base Hammer in 2007-2008, managing 15 projects totaling $12 million, located east of Baghdad, and handpicked as the first site commander of the $13 million Village of Hope Project in Hawr Rajub, a village to the south. Josh also deployed to Afghanistan in 2005-2006 as the lead engineer for the joint service Provincial Reconstruction Team in Khowst Province, Afghanistan.

In 2010, Josh was appointed a faculty position in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and served as course director for “Introduction to Air Force Engineering” and “Introduction to Environmental Engineering.”  In partnership with the Foreign Languages Department, he developed a water treatment course for Portuguese instruction. An academic advisor to 24 cadets, Josh instructed the “First Year Experience” class for incoming students.  He oversaw training curriculum of 200 militiamen in construction skills in Iraq and volunteered time teaching college engineering students in Afghanistan. Cross-trained in civil military operations, Josh has participated in engagement with provincial government leaders.

Due to the frequent relocations of military service, Josh has had the opportunity to volunteer in communities across multiple geographies, including Abilene, Texas; Great Falls, Montana; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has contributed his time to the Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, the Marian House Soup Kitchen, the Southwest Indian Foundation, the Children’s Environmental Health Institute,  and is a member of the Society of American Military Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers. During his time in Great Falls, he participated in a literacy mentorship program at Longfellow Elementary School and serves as a MATHCOUNTs competition grader. Josh is also a member of the Air Force Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the University of Texas Alumni Association.

Josh has received several honors and decorations during his brief military career, including the: Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Air Force Recognition Ribbon. He was selected as the national recipient of the Society of American Military Engineers 2010 Sverdrup Medal for outstanding contributions to engineering, construction, planning and leadership.

He is pursuing a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, with a research focus on the nexus of building energy efficiency, air quality and pollution control lifecycle costs. Josh also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering from UT-Austin. He was recently selected for promotion to the rank of Major. He has contributed financial support for the NAU Christian Challenge.

Josh credits the professional and academic growth he received as a student at NAU to his participation in the Air Force ROTC program and the Civil Engineering program. He relates, “The ROTC program provided a great foundation for being a leader in the Air Force and my community and provided me with many of the skills I use every day on active duty. My education prepared me for some very difficult engineering challenges that I’ve had during my career.”