Young Engineer Makes His Mark on Major Los Angeles Area Transportation Project

February 5, 2014

This is the seventh profile of a series to introduce ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering 2014. Transportation engineers design and operate highways, airports, railroads, and public transit. They aim to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. Today, read about Ravi Shah.

Ravi S_Fixed_2x3 Color_300DPIAs a young engineer out of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Ravi Shah, P.E., M.ASCE, began his career at HDR Engineering Inc.’s Transportation Group as a design engineer on a $30 million complex-interchange improvement project for the Port of Los Angeles. The 5-year project called for a major realignment of a local roadway and interchange in an area where there is heavy traffic due to the high volume of trucks going in and out of Port facilities. The project included numerous stakeholders – Caltrans (California Department of Transportation), the City of Los Angeles, and the Port of Los Angeles, etc. – who sought to reduce truck traffic to the adjacent local community by improving the flow of traffic from the I-110 Freeway ramps at C Street through consolidation of two closely spaced intersections and realignment of the local roadways.

Shah has always looked for ways to learn and be challenged.

“When I first started working on the project about five years ago [in 2008], I was just a design engineer handling the design,” Shah recalled. “But about a year into the project, I approached the project manager and asked to take on more responsibility; I wanted to become more involved with the project. I would ask for more responsibility by asking him how I could help.

 “As the project progressed, I went to more project development team meetings and started building a relationship with the stakeholders. I slowly started getting the opportunity to manage the sub-consultants and our internal team members working on the project.”

 Shah added, “For the last few years, I have been responsible for most of the day-to-day operations of the project. I have been fortunate to get the opportunity so early in my career to work on such a complex project for one of the nation’s busiest ports. It’s been a pleasure working with the entire team, including HDR, its sub-consultants, the Port, and other stakeholders, [all of whom] have been supportive in the development of this project. We have all been working on [the] common goal to deliver a successful project for the Port and the local community. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work on this project from the beginning, from preliminary engineering through final design and currently the construction phase.

“Having the opportunity to see a project finally being constructed in which you’ve invested a lot of yourself is definitely something I am proud of.”

 During this time period, while the project design was being finalized and approved by the local agency, the interchange improvement project was not the only major activity Shah was involved in. During 2012-2013, Shah was the president of ASCE’s Orange County Younger Member Forum (YMF), where he led 22 volunteers in nearly tripling the number of events commonly held over the year, with nearly one third of those events focused on Community, K-12, and University Outreach. Some notable events were the Ronald McDonald House, Corazon Home Build, Legal Side of Engineering, Rock Climbing, Joint Universities Resume/Interview Workshop, and the OC Branch 60th Anniversary Historic Landmark Tour.

Highlighting the year’s YMF activities was the 19th Annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition held during E-Week. The competition, held at historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, attracted over 300 students and teachers from over 30 high schools from Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino/Riverside counties. The event was led by Orange County and jointly planned and hosted with the Los Angeles and San Bernardino/Riverside Younger Member Groups.

“[Many] students in elementary, junior high, and even high school don’t really understand where water comes from or why they are able to safely drive on roads and highways every day,” notes Shah. “So it is really satisfying to know that through ASCE involvement and sponsored activities, we are able to introduce the next generation to civil engineering and hopefully influence them to consider careers in engineering.”

Shah says, “Being a New Face of Engineering motivates me to continue striving for continued success not only for myself, but for my peers as well. This also gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on society through some of ASCE’s outreach efforts; and professionally in the workplace, it allows me the opportunity to work on new and exciting projects.”

 Next in the series, read about Tyler Troast

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