Our Engineers Reflect on the Impact of Engineering During National Engineers Week
During National Engineers Week (Feb. 19-25), Harris County engineers spent some time reflecting on why they became engineers and the impact they've been able to make in their local community.
"Actually, when I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer," said Director of Capital Projects – Facilities, Jeremy Rocha. In high school, Rocha participated in a science fair competition where he helped build structures and protect them from rising flood waters. He started to gravitate towards developing solutions to mitigate the course of flood waters. From there, Rocha went on to study civil engineering. What he appreciates the most about engineering is the process – seeing a project go from an idea to a sketch to a plan, eventually transforming into a structure that can benefit residents of Harris County. Being a native Houstonian, Rocha enjoys seeing his hometown's continued growth and improvements.
"As the County's population continues to grow and infrastructure needs expand, it is exciting to see Harris County react positively with programs like the recently-passed 2022 Harris County Bond and community-focused projects like the HAY Center," Rocha mentioned. The reward is an integral part of the success of projects.
Director of Capital Projects – Horizontal Raimundo Dovalina was introduced to the engineering world at a young age by his family, who eventually influenced him to pursue this career path. That early influence happened again with his son, an industrial engineer. Dovalina's experience in large local and state agencies, and even as the transportation director for the City of Phoenix, has him ready and excited to deliver impactful projects moving forward.
"What I mostly enjoy about engineering is working with people who want to make the place that they live in a better one," Dovalina said.
Assistant County Engineer Susan Fraser has a bit of advice for other young women considering a walk down the engineering path. "My first piece of advice would be to not think of herself as a young girl but as a powerful, needed, and diverse future contributor to our professional workforce," said Fraser. She encourages future engineers to take those higher-level math and science classes but, just as importantly, to focus on problem-solving analysis, writing, and presenting skills. "Most engineers will enjoy math, science, and STEM course, but excelling in areas beyond the technical realm can set you apart and open up opportunities," Fraser continued.
She began to catch a glimpse of the County's innovation after reading Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America by Stephen Klineberg. It details how a rapidly changing city can be the forecaster of the United States. In Fraser's nine months with Harris County, she has witnessed emerging trends across the County, like diversity, energy, and healthcare, that have helped lead to more opportunity and infrastructure development to support the growth here. "This is where our department will shine – by continuing to roll up our sleeves to meet the demands of the progress we are seeing," Fraser emphasized her gratitude towards what engineering means to her and how rewarding the field truly is.
She feels that contributing to the quality of life for our community through infrastructure is fulfilling. "I think we are pretty fortunate to have an active rather than passive role in our community."
County Engineer Dr. Milton Rahman views himself not only as an engineer but a problem solver. His key focus is to enhance the quality of life for Harris County residents by providing superior infrastructure solutions with guidance from our Commissioners Court. Working with regional partners and leading a talented group of professionals to solve regional mobility, flooding, and environmental challenges are gratifying for him. "Harris County residents and elected officials overwhelmingly support investment in our infrastructures. Harris County Engineering has a very diverse and talented team committed to delivering innovative infrastructure solutions for our 4.7 million residents," Dr. Rahman said.
Even though engineering may present challenges such as cost efficiency and practicality, he is grateful to have a region of talented engineers to help us as consultants. Dr. Rahman knows that the path to becoming an engineer is not easy, but he does offer some advice to those working hard on their engineering journey. "Seek for diverse and challenging assignments, broaden your experience, respect different opinions, and never stop learning," said Dr. Rahman.