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News | March 23, 2022

QAS deploys prior military training to help warfighters

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Brandilen Rounds loves adventures and calculated risks.

She owns a Harley Davidson motorcycle. She rides often as a way to relax away from her Defense Contract Management Agency career.

“As far as riding the motorcycle, I love it because it takes away all of the other distractions for a bit of time,” she said. “I am in the moment on the bike and all other stressors and problems are pushed out of my mind. I rode a friend’s dirt bike once when I was 13 and was hooked.”

But Rounds limits risks when it comes to her job as a quality assurance specialist. She ensures defense contractors produce quality products based on contract specifications and requirements. 

“Our warfighters need to be able to rely on their equipment to work right the first time and every time,” said Rounds.

Rounds, who previously served on active duty in the Army and the Air Force Reserve, is currently a quality assurance specialist for DCMA Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations North Texas, but she is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She has been a part of the DCMA team since December 2016. She was also a quality inspector in the Air Force Reserve. In her DCMA position, she communicates with her customer’s program teams and contractors, reviews contractual requirements, and conducts inspections. She provides quality assurance expertise to a defense contractor that performs modifications for the C-130J Super Hercules.

“Serving my country provides me with a great sense of purpose. I take comfort in the fact that I can still contribute to the warfighter from a civilian position,” she said.

Rounds said it was an easy choice to become a QAS because of her military background. She joined the Army in 1995 after graduating from high school. Her military occupation specialty was as a heavy equipment operator and she learned to work on various military vehicles. Eight years later, she deployed with her unit to Iraq in 2003.

While in Iraq on a 14-month deployment, she became her platoon’s scout truck gunner. She served in the Army for 10 years. After leaving the military to focus on her family and education, she missed the military environment and joined the Air Force Reserve in 2006. She later retired in 2021 after 24 years of active duty and Reserve time. In addition to serving as a quality inspector in her Colorado Reserve unit, she served as an avionics technician for the C-130H Hercules aircraft.

“It was a natural progression for my career to become a civilian QAS,” said Rounds. “In my 20’s and 30’s, I was an avionics technician in the Air Force Reserve full time. I have always had pride in my work, and I take the time to make sure I get things done right. That attention to detail helps me with inspecting products and reviewing the contractor’s processes. Having firsthand experience maintaining different types of vehicles helped me on my current job. I have worked on C-130H’s, and I have spent time learning a lot about C-130 maintenance.”

Being a QAS allows Rounds to use her mediator skills to make sure the contractor and customer understand the product requirements and status.

“I have learned how to be a calm arbitrator,” she stated. “The QAS is not always the contractor’s favorite person, but it is important to keep a good working relationship while ensuring the product is built as required. I am not afraid to tackle anything new. I was a machine gunner in Iraq as the lead of our convoys for a year. I made it through that, and everything else is easy.”

As a QAS, Rounds has received accolades. She received the Rookie of the Year award in 2017 from the Colorado Federal Executive Board and the DCMA QAS of the 3rd quarter in 2021.

“She is dependable and always willing to learn,” said Ricky Williams, a QA supervisor at DCMA AIMO North Texas. “Brandi’s selfless service, always willing to help, stay late to get things done and never accepting substandard efforts, reflects her positive influence and the dedication of DCMA employees to the warfighter.”

Air Force Lt. Col. Paula Arquette, DCMA AIMO North Texas commander, praised Rounds for being flexible and versatile in her QAS knowledge.

“Brandi’s service before self-attitude is paramount to the DCMA mission,” said Arquette. “She is always willing to go above and beyond to get things done, and she strives for perfection. She’s a positive influence, which reflects her work ethic and the dedication to enhancing warfighter lethality by ensuring the delivery of quality aircraft. As her commander, I’m proud to call Brandi a member of the DCMA AIMO North Texas team. She is a star performer that consistently shines bright as a quality assurance expert.” 

Rounds believes mentoring is important for all new team members. She encourages DCMA employees to help those who are new to the agency. Her advice to new employees is to learn on the job and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

“Having a mentor that has the experience to implement policy according to specific contracts is very helpful,” she said.

“In the Army, I had an amazing mentor for a platoon leader while deployed to Iraq. He is an example of one that didn’t know at the time how much of an impact he had on my decisions in life. You can be a mentor without realizing it and make an enormous impact on your peers. All you have to do is put your best effort into your work,” added Rounds.

As DCMA celebrates Women’s History Month, Rounds encourages women to not be afraid of new career choices, such as switching to become a QAS. Only 10 percent of the agency’s QAS’s are female. Rounds grew up on a farm where she said there weren’t any specific gender jobs.

“I was the oldest child growing up on a small farm, and there were no male or female jobs,” stated Rounds. “I was expected to do the work that needed to be done. It is never too late for women to learn to be comfortable in a new environment. If we focus on changing our culture to not categorize jobs into gender-specific skills, then it will be natural for women that are more mechanically inclined to apply for QAS jobs. There are a lot of us women out here now doing quality work.”

In addition to riding her motorcycle to relax, Rounds enjoys restoring and upgrading her diesel truck, horseback riding and spending time with her family. She and her husband also volunteer at an equestrian rehabilitation facility that focuses on helping children with disabilities.

Rounds explained that she knows her DCMA job is important to warfighters.

“I know I am helping to ensure that our warfighters have reliable equipment,” she mentioned. “I was on the roads of Iraq for over a year, so I understand firsthand how critical it is for equipment to work every time. DCMA’s job is in the background, but we are vital because we ensure that our military members have state-of-the-art equipment.”