On October 3, 2013, the Texas Department of Transportation broke ground on the 35Express, one of the largest transportation projects in the state’s history. The 28-mile, $1.4 billion first phase of the project is designed to relieve the heavy rush-hour congestion along the east corridor from US Highway 380 in Denton County to I-635 in Dallas County.
Targeted for completion in 2017, phase one of the project will construct, reconstruct, and widen several bridges and interchanges along the route. Highlighting the project are what are termed “managed lanes” located down the middle of the interstate, which will give motorists an option when traveling during peak times.
Key to the geotechnical aspects of the project are the mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls, specifically designed and constructed for the 35Express project by Terracon Consultants Inc. The firm’s project team found that, compared with conventional reinforced concrete walls, MSE allowed for easier installation and quick construction.
“I really feel like I challenged myself on the 35Express project because of the leadership that I received working at Terracon,” says Ozzy Bravo, P.E., M.ASCE, senior staff Geotechnical Engineer in the Central Resource Group at Terracon Consultants Inc. “By doing the laboratory testing and extensive analysis of the design of the mechanically stabilized earth and retaining walls, it will definitely improve the quality of life for commuters in the North Texas region.”
Before joining Terracon, Bravo served as a structural engineer and project manager with Constructive Engineering Design for one of Hallmark’s manufacturing plant improvements.
“I was thrown in the deep end as they like to say,” laughed Bravo, who, in his present role at Terracon, conducts, analyzes, and prepares geotechnical design calculations for design-build transportation and infrastructure projects for local and national projects within the firm’s Central Resource Group. “Because this was a fast-track project, I pretty much had to learn on the fly, which required building a team, and attending meetings with architects and mechanical ventilation groups. I am really very proud of the work that I did on this project because of the very strong relationships I built with our clients and the work that we completed given the [project’s] time constraints.”
Growing up in Lima, Peru, it was during a family trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 1999 that Bravo became captivated by the details and logistics it took to construct the bridge. When the time came to apply for college and pick a career, he had only one objective: study civil engineering.
“Coming to the U.S. to pursue my degree and become a civil engineer was a dream of mine,” confessed Bravo, who received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Kansas.
While obtaining his master’s degree in geotechnical engineering at Texas A&M University, Bravo was mentored by the legendary Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE., Dist.M.ASCE, who this past April became a Distinguished Member of ASCE for his pioneering contributions in the field of geotechnical engineering.
“He was like a father figure to me,” recalled Bravo, “He gave me a deep appreciation of geotechnical engineering and provided me with a lot of opportunities to learn about research in that field. While I was earning my master’s degree he hired me as a soil erosion laboratory manager.”
Returning to Kansas City, Kansas, which he now calls home, he is very involved in the ASCE Section, where he first served as professional development chair and is presently functioning as vice president and treasurer of the Younger Member Group (YMG).
“One of the things that [the Kansas City YMG] was able to accomplish is provide many activities for our members, such as tours, presentations, or seminars,” notes Bravo, who mentors graduate and undergraduate engineering students at Washburn University and the University of Kansas. “I really feel proud of that achievement given that stepping into that role [as professional development chair] allowed me to recruit more members to our YMG and that reflected in the increased participation.”
“Being a New Face of Civil Engineering motivates me to continue to better myself and motivate others to work together to improve the practice of civil engineering and potentially contribute as much as we can to ASCE,” concludes Bravo.