I had written about NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and his collection of challenge coins. In short, challenge coins are medals that bears an organization’s logo or emblem that are carried by the members and given to outsiders as an honor. When a member draws his or her challenge coin and slaps it on the table, others must produce their challenge coin or buy a round of drinks for the group. It is very popular in the military.

The company I work for has an excellent relationship with the military and other federal agencies. Aside from our business, we have many employees and board members who are retired military officers. What makes us different from an ordinary Beltway bandit firm is that the company is a non-profit that runs three (soon to be four) Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC). In short, an FFRDC “is a unique organization that assists the United States government with scientific research and analysis, development and acquisition, and/or systems engineering and integration. FFRDCs address long-term problems of considerable complexity, analyze technical questions with a high degree of objectivity, and provide creative and cost-effective solutions to government problems.” Our non-profit status gives us the freedom to make the right decisions without conflicts of interests getting in the way.

There is a tradition similar to challenge coins in my company. When a large project successfully ends, project members are awarded with a medal representing the project. Medals are either mounted on a plaque or framed in a coaster form. While most people do not use it as a coaster I was told that there was a time that team members would use the coasters during the celebration of their accomplishment.

I have seen a few project medals given to co-workers. Most of these co-workers have been employed by the company longer than I have and were given the medals for projects that ended before I started working for the company. Many have more than one. Although I had worked on a few large projects I never received one… until now!

As I was leaving early on Friday a co-worker stopped me at my office door. She told me the project director was giving this to all team members handed me my first project medal. After not seeing one awarded in nearly eight years, I was very surprised. I stammered out a thank you and stopped to look at the medal.

Within the wood coaster is a 38 millimeter bronze medal that has the name of the company and the agency that benefited from our work around the outer edge. The inner ring has the initials of the centers that had members participating in the project. In the middle is the logo of the government agency.

It is very satisfying to be a member of a significant, successful project. It is also great that one of the rewards is numismatically satisfying!

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