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Civil engineer Airmen light up the new year

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cynthia A. Innocenti
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar— A team of four creative 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen restored a three-year-old New Year’s Eve ball to light up the night at Al Udeid in celebration of the upcoming new year, 2017. 


It all started when Staff Sgt. Kimberly Douglas, a contracting office representative with the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, heard about a unit hosting a ball drop here in the past. Once she found out the New Year’s Eve ball was still being stored here, she approached the 379th ECES with the idea of making a New Year’s Eve ball drop a reality.


Airman 1st Class Bryce Armstrong, an electrical systems journeyman with the 379th ECES, decided this would be a great way to give back to the personnel at Al Udeid, so he gathered a team of three other Airmen from his unit to start the project.


“The first thing we did was venture out to where the ball was being stored to see what we could salvage from it,” said Armstrong. “We found the ball mostly intact, but could not find the corresponding control panel.”


Staff Sgt. Logan Hall, Senior Airman Casimy Metayer, and Armstrong, all electrical systems journeymen with the 379 ECES, then came up with a plan of creating their own control panel in order to get the ball functioning before the big night.


“We did a lot of research to find out what it would take to energize the ball,” said Armstrong. “After solving voltage issues, we had to acquire the correct converters.”


Armstrong explained that the converters change the electricity from alternating current (outlet power) to direct current (battery power) which is needed to power the ball.


After all the necessary components were acquired, each Airman spent about 10 hours after work to consolidate all of the controls into a box, creating a central location for the controls.


“We engineered the control box to run off of 120 volts alternating current, the typical voltage standard you would find in America, as well as 240 VAC, a common voltage in most countries, for our convenience and for the convenience of rotations to come,” said Armstrong.


Armstrong said the last hurdle was powering the ball because it needs six wires connecting the panel to the ball.


“Working on this ball has been a great learning experience, and we get to give the personnel at Al Udeid a chance to feel a little closer to home,” said Armstrong.


Armstrong said his team is enthusiastic about seeing everyone’s reaction to the New Year’s Eve ball drop and excited to see their hard work literally light up.


“We are deployed and many folks will be missing out on celebrating with their family and friends,” said Senior Master Sgt. Craig Houchins, facilities superintendent with the 379th ECES. “Our hope at the 379th ECES is that the extra display will help make this New Year’s celebration a memorable and enjoyable event for U.S. and coalition forces.”