Board Member Spotlight
As part of our new Board Member Appreciation Program, we are showcasing a board member in our bimonthly Board Member Spotlight. Our board member spotlight recognizes board members of outstanding contributions to the profession and our local communities. For any questions regarding the program please contact the Past President PastPresident@ymf-oc.org.
For the November- December 2019 Spotlight, we would like to introduce...
We asked her to state his name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
Gabriela Ruiz, EIT
LIN Consulting, Inc.
Communications Co-Chair and WRYMC 2021 Programs Co-Chair
We also asked her a few questions about the following:
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Venezuela, but I moved to Bakersfield, CA when I was 11 yo.
What made you want to become an engineer?
When I was little, I wanted to be an architect because I loved designing. You could always find me drawing houses and buildings in any pieces of paper I could find. Once in high school, I realized that I have a more logical mind rather than a creative one. I loved anything STEM related, my strongest subjects were definitely math and science. After some research, I found civil engineering and it was everything I wanted in a career. Funny thing, after I started studying, I found out half of my family (aunts, uncles and cousins) are all civil engineers. No wonder I always thought their job was cool.
Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
I love watching movies with my family, going out to eat with friends and traveling to new places. I also like reading, painting, baking and watching shows when I'm at home.
Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
... at home resting from the week!
What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
I graduated UC Irvine with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, specializing in Transportation. I was a member of American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Transportation Engineers, where I was VP of External Affairs, and Phi Sigma Rho (a science and engineering sorority), where I was Vice President and VP of Recruitment.
WORK & PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
As a Project Engineer at LIN Consulting, I've had the opportunity to work with experienced engineers in a variety of projects. I'm part of the planning team, where my responsibilities involved traffic analysis and preparation of Transportation Management Plans and traffic impact studies. In addition, I assist the design team whenever needed, drafting base maps, traffic signal plans, traffic control plans and calculating quantities. I've also had the chance to work on a civil standpoint in a Complete Street project, designing curb bulb outs, ramps, driveways and sidewalks to improve walkability. One of the most significant projects I'm working on is the Westside Purple Line Extension in West Los Angeles. which includes seven new underground stations, and will improve transit travel time and reliability.
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
My favorite part about being a civil engineer is being able to see your work and how it affects the community. You can look out of a window, and you can bet whatever you see, a civil engineer was somehow involved. I love driving down a road and unconsciously putting what I learned into practice, such as the timing of traffic signals, or whether a ramp is ADA approved, or if the striping is up to standards. I can't help but see all of the ways we can improve our infrastructure, and knowing the projects I'm working on are doing exactly that makes me proud of being a part of it.
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
I believe technical skills and personal skills are equally important. You can come up with an amazing design, but you also have to be able to communicate it in a way people understand. And above all, you always have to strive to improve.
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
Taking one class of transportation at UCI had me falling for it. I never realized how intricate everything is and I wanted to learn more about how it all connected. Roadway systems, driving, transit, traffic control, it impacts everyone in today's society. If I could do something differently, I wish I could've taken more transportation classes in college.
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
I first joined ASCE when I was at UCI, but I wasn't very active. Once I graduated, my good friend and mentor, Crystal, told me about YMF and invited me to come to a board meeting. Right off the bat, everyone was super friendly and I never felt out of place. I stayed involved because ASCE offers opportunities to further your professional career, such as seminars, panels, conferences and building personal skills through various events, but ultimately, I stayed because of the wonderful individuals that made me feel welcomed. I wish to continue to learn from them while enjoying my time.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
Meeting so many talented engineers with different backgrounds has helped me improve personally and professionally. The variety of events ASCE has to offer all have one thing in common, the building of relationships. Networking is truly at the base of our industry, of course alongside with the needed technical skills.
Who is someone you admire and why?
I've always admired my dad. I have yet to meet a person that has even one negative thing to say about him. So many people depend on him and look up to him, and he's always helping the best he can. He's inspiring, hard-working, patient, amiable and so much more. Not only can I depend on him whenever I need wisdom, I can also depend on him whenever I need to laugh.
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Everybody is learning, from entry level engineers to 30+ years of experience engineers, and people in this industry want to see and help you grow. The more you ask and research, the more you can improve as an engineer and professional.
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
“It's not about the destination, it's about the journey!”
If you missed the last (October-November 2019) Board Member Spotlight, Mansa Vijayakumar, you can click here to read her article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.