Engineers Week Spotlights 2017
El Paso Water is joining organizations throughout the world to celebrate Engineers Week, Feb. 19-25. The theme is "Dream Big," and we are recognizing our own engineers with spotlights to highlight their importance. Engineers are essential when providing water, wastewater and flood-control services to El Paso homes and businesses.
Gonzalo Cedillos has worked as an engineer with the City of El Paso for the past 38 years, and the last nine years were here at El Paso Water. He has overseen numerous stormwater projects, but the one that stands out to him as the most rewarding is the Gateway Pond Project, which reduces flooding on Interstate-10.
"The several times that I-10 previously flooded, it paralyzed the city," Gonzalo says. "This is one of the paramount projects that I take the most pride in."
Cedillos is known for mentoring young, up-and-coming engineers in the utility.
"I feel it is important is to share the knowledge I've developed over the years, including the technology, the science, and the thought process. Some of the solutions I've learned over the years might well apply to today's problems."
He adds that being an engineer can be one of the most exciting and rewarding jobs.
"If you like to work with Legos and play in the mud and be constructive, that's what you get to do as an engineer. You can keep on playing make believe. You can take those dreams as a child and implement them as an adult."
Fernando (Fernie) Rico is the chief operating officer of El Paso Water and a University of Texas at El Paso civil engineering alumnus.
"What I've really liked about EPWater is working together with the different sections and learning from everybody," he says. "The best thing about this utility is we love innovation and we like to stay cutting-edge."
Fernie has worked in water quality his entire career and considers his 29-years at EPWater very fulfilling. As chief operating officer he oversees water and wastewater operations, water quality, environmental compliance, utility security and emergency operations, stormwater and fleet and building maintenance.
In the 1980s he designed a reservoir at Coronado Country Club that remains among his favorite projects while at the utility.
"I designed it all from A to Z: from the surveying to the bidding to the inspection phase. That was a good project. I drive by and I remember that fondly all the time."
Fernie encourages those interested in engineering to pursue it as a career.
"When you become an engineer, you have all the opportunities to make a difference in your community and in this world. You'll be given the skills and tools to further develop and make a difference," he said.
As a child, Emma Cordova loved designing miniature bridges and playing with toy cars. As she grew up, she was inspired watching her older brother work as a civil engineer. At 15, she knew she wanted to follow a similar career path.
"I love my job," she says. "It's exciting, and it allows me to be creative and learn something new every day."
Emma studied civil engineering at the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, and has worked at El Paso Water for seven years. She started her career at the utility in inspections and now works as an engineering associate in Planning and Development.
In her latest project, she oversees water and sewer line installations at the Montecillo development site. The town center is the first of its kind in El Paso and presents unique challenges. Emma works with developers to ensure that the system is properly installed and will run efficiently when complete.
She encourages young girls who excel in math and science to consider a career in engineering.
"Engineering is about having the vision to see how you can make a difference," she notes.
Pablo Mejia, Jr. started his career at El Paso Water four years ago as an engineering technician and quickly worked his way up to engineering associate. He graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso, and this was his first engineering career opportunity.
Mejia oversees street paving and new installations, such as water services, fire hydrants and sewer services for commercial and residential projects. When a new house or business is in development, Mejia plays an important role in reviewing plans and making recommendations where meters and services should be placed.
"El Paso Water is very complex," he explains. "So much happens behind the scenes to enable a customer turn on the faucet and have good quality water come out. That's no easy feat. It's made me appreciate how the process works."
He says every day offers a new opportunity to grow as an engineer.
"There's a lot of teamwork involved. Working with different departments has taught me to listen and understand different views and perspectives."
EPWater has also taught him about the multi-faceted nature of civil engineering.
"I used to think engineering was just about building bridges. There's so much more to it than that. I encourage aspiring engineers to continue to pursue their dreams."
Warren Marquette prides himself on what he says is one of the best jobs in the world.
As the capital projects manager at El Paso Water for the past two years, Warren oversees plant equipment, lift stations, pump stations and all process equipment systems for the water and wastewater divisions.
Warren studied mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. Prior to working at EPWater, he worked as a consulting engineer for 15 years.
His role at EPWater involves overseeing capital improvement projects, and examining the water and wastewater treatment plants for improvement opportunities and process upgrades. He looks for deficiencies, aging equipment, and other issues that might raise concerns.
"It's very exciting dealing with problems, then coming up with solutions and making things better," Warren says. "If you want to be an engineer, it's the best position in the world."
Ryan Stubbs' combined love of math and automobiles inspired him to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.
As a utility engineering associate with El Paso Water, Ryan encounters challenges of all kinds on the job.
"I focus on project management for capital improvement projects that are in both the design and construction phase, but I also produce reports on localized flooding sites that are identified by residents and review plans for code compliance," he says.
His latest construction projects include the Dallas Conduit project to remove water and wastewater utilities from an existing storm drain.
"The utility lines currently impede the flow within the storm drain and trap debris which clogs the system causing flooding within the streets upstream. This project will reroute the utilities allowing storm water flow through at its maximum capacity. It is a Stormwater project funded by Water/Wastewater, and requires coordination between the different groups."
Ryan has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso. Skills from both disciplines have served him well as he's worked on various projects.
His current goal is to earn his professional engineering (PE) license in the near future.
Go to our YouTube page to view video profiles of the individuals listed.