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Air Force officer is passionate about life, work and people

Maj. Kurt Rouser, Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Operations Officer, points out the flexible inlet duct in the center’s J-2 Engine Test Cell. (Photo by David Housch)

Maj. Kurt Rouser, Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Operations Officer, points out the flexible inlet duct in the center’s J-2 Engine Test Cell. (Photo by David Housch)

Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn -- There are probably not too many people who can say they are passionate about mowing the lawn. But that is just one of the things Maj. Kurt Rouser is passionate about. 

The major is passionate about everything in his life, from his job to his family, to people in general. 

Joining the Air Force was not a tough decision for Major Rouser. As a child, he always wanted to be around airplanes, so attending the Air Force Academy seemed only logical. 

After enrolling in the academy, the California native fine tuned his passion for airplanes and began focusing on jet engines. 

"You can feel the rumble. Smell it. Taste it. Hear it. It's great," he said. "It thumps my chest." 

Major Rouser's duties as Arnold Engineering Development Center's AEDC Operations Officer center around jet engines. He provides oversight, as well as tactical and strategic guidance on workload requirements and scheduling. 

According to Major Rouser one of the most challenging aspects of his job is actually managing jet engines. Whether it be testing, maintenance or design, he compares jet engines to a beast. 

"You often feel like you're trying to nail Jell-O to the wall, because you've got a solution and you find out it's not perfect and the jet engine finds a way to bite you in the end," he said. 

He also manages the manpower aspect and the execution of test projects and has taken on the responsibility for mentoring and training young program managers in his squadron. 

There are many aspects to executing test projects -- which test cells the engines, are tested in, testing priority, even handling an accident should one occur. 

More than jet engines, Major Rouser enjoys working with people and feels that is the best part about his job. People bring a wealth of expertise to the table, as well as a good sense of humor, he said. 

He enjoys learning from others and sharing some of his own knowledge. 

"I even enjoy the folks who come in who are considered the crusty, old resistant type folks because they keep me grounded," he said. "They keep me from becoming overly optimistic about things." 

Even though he said people are the best part of his job, they are also the most challenging. 

"The people are challenging because every person is an individual. They are unique," he explained. "I would say the reason why there is a challenge with people is you have to understand where they're coming from. What is their paradigm? Understanding a person's mental, physical and emotional being and bringing all that together." 

He takes pleasure in sharing his knowledge or whatever he can offer to people. He enjoys supporting people, whether it is through nominating them for an award or caring for them the best way he knows how. 

Part of the reason Major Rouser is so passionate about people is because of the knowledge they have. The 12-year veteran said a lot of people have helped him and have made him who he is. People have been patient with him and continue to teach him. The best way to repay them is to impart that knowledge on someone else, he explained. 

He considers his family his greatest achievement in life. His children are an achievement because he says he and his wife are making more than children, they are making citizens, and they both take that seriously. 

"It's part of the reason we have chosen to home school, so that we can get in there one-on-one with the kids and give them the best education imaginable, that's why we pray at the dinner table, that's why we pray before we go to bed," Major Rouser said. 

Home schooling is a top priority for Major Rouser's family. He enjoys being able to share his knowledge with his children and doesn't put any subject out of reach for them. 

"When it comes to education and you teach someone, you can see the light bulb come on right away," he said. "I think whenever someone learns something new, there's always some level of excitement."
Major Rouser has many words to live by. When referring to his job and jet engines, his words to live by are "In Exertus Nos Credimus." Translated, it means, "In Thrust, We Trust." Even though he means this jokingly, there is some seriousness behind it. 

"My paradigm, my perspective on things is that jet engines power the Air Force and we put a lot of faith in that thrust, whether we are maintaining it, testing it, recording it, whatever it maybe, developing it technology wise," says Major Rouser. 

On another level, Major Rouser lives his life by the phrase, "Run in such a way as to get the prize," a passage from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 9:24. 

"That is how I live," he said. "I can't put a finer point on it than that. It goes back to being passionate. Whatever task I lay my hand to, I do it with every ounce of ability and effort. Whether it be a small task or a big task, I do it for the glory of God. I think some folks call that zeal, some say it's passion. You can call it whatever you want, but in the end, it comes back to running in such a way that I get the prize."