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Engel keeping systems in check

October 28, 2011

Photo submitted - St. Marys native Marty Engel, 34, of Mount Airy, Md., is keeping systems in check as a a program manager with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In utilizing his strong background in math and problem-solving, St. Marys native Marty Engel, 34, has turned those skills into career-builders. He has worked as a systems analyst and for the past two years as a program manager with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Engel said his favorite aspect of his job is "knowing that what I do helps to make it possible for HHS to procure goods/services for the people that need it the most. "Whether it is providing aid in the form of food, water, and medical supplies/equipment or if it is buying charter airplane tickets for U.S. health officials to provide medical assistance to a devastated area when a natural disaster occurs, it all has to be processed in the system that I support."
In his current position, Engel is charged with managing two multimillion-dollar contracts for the agency, among additional job responsibilities.
He explained the contracts support the government’s acquisition management function, where the government enters into contracts with vendors to do various tasks.
"My job is to make sure the system that generates all of the legal documentation between the government and vendor is up and running," Engel said.
He noted the system also handles various aspects of data reporting to other government systems such as USASpending.gov. 
"In addition to making sure the system is up and running, I’m also responsible for a customized user support for this system, making process improvements, electronic document storage, and moving the environment to cloud computing," Engel said.
Ensuring data quality is Engel's biggest challenge, as there are over 500-plus users in the system with thousands upon thousands of transactions being generated by its users. This results in a great deal of data needing to be validated.
Engel explained there are typically between 100-150 data elements which are associated with a procurement transaction which needs to be reported to the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) and USASpending.gov. 
"This data that is generated has to be reported to Congress and the American people on the goods/services that we buy, and it has to be as accurate as possible," he said. "When you do the math, that is a lot of data that is reported; anywhere from socioeconomic data to product/services classification, it all has to be as accurate as possible."
In order to assure accuracy, Engel and his co-workers conduct system audits, as well as identify areas of training which are needed in order to prevent users from making the same mistake.
"This data is very important to Congress and the White House to ensure fiscal responsibility as to where money is being spent, whether small businesses are being utilized, etc.," he noted. 
Marty is the son of Tom and Mary Lee Engel of St. Marys. He is the grandson of the late Nick and Mabel Engel and the late John and Winnie Schreiber. He has two older brothers, Greg and Matt.
Together with his wife Kate (Pfeufer), the couple reside in Mount Airy, Md., with their five children; Thad, 12, Nate, 7, Tess, 5, Sam, 3 and Ben, 1.
Following graduation from Elk County Christian High School in 1995, Engel continued his education at Penn State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Management Science & Information Systems (MS&IS) in 1999. He obtained additional training, earning a Project Manager Professional (PMP) Certification and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Certification.
Growing up, Engel said his strength in school was in math and solving analytical problems. This talent was nurtured while at ECC as Engel improved these skills with the help of teacher Greg Snelick.
"I was very lucky to have a great teacher in Mr. Greg Snelick, who always pushed me in Algebra, Calculus, and Robotics. Mr. Snelick always made you work for the correct answer," Engel said. "When I took his Robotics class, that really sparked my interested in programming and while being a part of the information age, I was even more interested in how electronic information was stored and made available to people."
While at Penn State, Engel pursued an Information Technology (IT)-related field where he found himself taking database design and other information system design/programming courses.
Upon graduating from Penn State, Engel took a job at Winstar Telecommunications as a systems analyst, at a time when the dot-com era was flourishing.
"I dealt with a variety of information systems and later in my career I found myself very interested and excelling in IT project/program management," he added.
It was during this time Engel embarked on one of his most favorite and notable projects when he was assigned to oversee the European deployment of an asset management and logistic system.
"I was given the task to gather and analyze our European division’s requirements and implement their processes and procedures into our existing system environment, as well as provide all of the user training," Engel said.
As part of this project, Engel was provided the opportunity to travel to Brussels, Belgium; Paris, France; and Edinburgh, Scotland on numerous occasions over a one-year period.
Even though the project ended up being a success, the dot-com industry declined, resulting in Winstar Telecommunications filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Shortly thereafter in 2001 Engel began working at TechTeam Government Solutions, where he later received an employee award.
"In 2007, while working at TechTeam Government Solutions, I was awarded the Leader of the Year. I was selected out of over 1,500 employees for the work I was performing for the government," Engel said.
Engel advised that those interested in pursuing an IT career should first obtain a college degree.
"There is a lot out there nowadays, but most importantly, get your college degree.  Most employers, especially the government, won’t hire you without a degree," he said. "As for a college graduate looking for a job, be very mindful of your social media that you use (e.g. Facebook). A lot of recruiters and employers will look at your profile to help determine your character to see if you would be a good fit for their firm."
Staying current in technology and always being willing to learn something new are also two important traits to possess, Engel said.
Engel credits his parents for their continued support throughout his career, even when he had to find work away from home. 
"My mom always reinforced and demonstrated the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This quality has helped me so much throughout my career when dealing with people from all walks of life," he said. "My dad always taught me to do my best at everything I do. It didn’t matter if it was school, sports, chores, etc., he always expected us to do our best at all times."
Additionally, Engel's high school athletic coaches, including those in football, basketball, track and field and baseball, also instilled in him the importance of discipline, teamwork and what it takes to be a leader.
"I contribute a lot of my work ethic to my father and my coaches over the years, especially Coach Aaron Straub," Engel added. "I don’t know if it was planned or not, but Coach Straub not only taught you the game of basketball, but he taught me some very valuable life lessons: planning, preparation, and discipline."
Engel said he loved growing up in St. Marys and wishes his children could experience it. Being away from family and not being able just to stop by his parents', aunts' and uncles', or cousins' homes for a brief visit is one of the comforts of home Engel said he misses the most.
"It’s a great community to raise a family and I still wish I could have found work in St. Marys each time we come home for a visit. Sometimes you don’t realize how much St. Marys has influenced you or how much you miss St. Marys until you’ve moved away," he said. "From a career perspective, growing up in a small town has taught me how honesty and integrity affect your reputation because everyone knows who you are or knows someone who knows you. And that helps you keep your actions and comments in check."
As for the future, Engel said he and his wife look forward to staying in Mt. Airy, as their children are now established there.
"As for a job, I plan to stay with HHS and I hope to continue to climb the government ladder," Engel said.
Outside of work, Engel spends most of his free time with his children, although he is also embarking on home renovations and enjoys woodworking. In addition, he has been coaching youth football for the past five years.
"They start the kids young down here with football;  5- and 6-year-olds are in full pads," he said. "It’s fun and I enjoy coaching while trying to pass on those life lessons that others have passed onto me."

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