CRANE, Ind. – Norman Thomas, civil assistant to the management of Crane Army Ammunition Activity, will receive the Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Award 2021 from the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. The Faculty Committee cited Thomas’s mastery of innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and community service throughout his career at Crane Army as reasons for recognition.

Thomas’ federal career spanned 38 years in ammunition manufacture, maintenance, logistics, engineering and administration. With an extensive educational portfolio, he graduated from Purdue University in December 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and began his career at CAAA in April 1983.

“When I started at Crane Army, my father asked me if I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a large pond. Until I started here, I didn’t know that I wanted to be a manager, ”said Thomas.

Thomas joined CAAA as a project engineer in the areas of weapons ammunition, demilitarization, renovation, maintenance and pyrotechnics. He has been regularly promoted to all directorates of the Crane Army for his leadership and engineering excellence. Working on the scale of manufacturing and engineering projects in this activity helped Thomas become a well-rounded leader and gave him the top-to-bottom awareness of the company that is required to be a leader.

“Norm is literally a leader,” said Col. Stephen Dondero, commander of Crane Army Ammunition Activity. “It was clear to me early on that he had very good judgment and would not fail in a rush. He leads with a steady hand and is both fair and firm. “

One of the most memorable achievements during his tenure was the manufacture of Humvee doors, which provided more security features after a series of attacks by foreign opponents on military vehicles in the early 2000s.

“We got the drawing package when most organic industrial bases across the country couldn’t keep up with demand,” said Thomas. “Within 30 days we built doors that helped protect our war fighters.”

In July 2010, Thomas assumed the position of civilian executive assistant after spending three years as chief of staff and 27 years as chief executive at CAAA.

“Norm was the consummate, calm professional who was willing to take calculated risks, to be tough when the situation called for it, and he could always count on being careless when necessary,” Col. ( Ret.) Michael Garlington, former commander of the Crane Army munitions activity, said.

The OME Award was established in 1991 by the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University to recognize alumni who have excelled in their careers and endeavors in mechanical engineering. Thomas, one of around 30,000 alumni of the school, joins around 280 of his colleagues in order to be awarded the prestigious award.

“I am totally surprised and humbled by this recognition,” said Thomas. “My career at Crane Army has given me the opportunity to excel and this award is an acknowledgment that I am doing the right thing.”

Thomas will be honored along with the outstanding mechanical engineers in 2020 and 2021 in a ceremony in September at Purdue University.

Crane Army Ammunition Activity ships, stores, demilitarizes, and produces conventional ammunition in support of the U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It serves as the Army’s second largest ammunition depot and houses about a quarter of the US Department of Defense’s conventional ammunition. CAAA was founded in October 1977 as a subordinate command of the JMC and AMC.

Recording date: 06/07/2021
Release Date: 06/07/2021 3:46 PM
Story ID: 400405
Place: IN U.S
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