My role at PWA
My name is Ariel Braza. I am a Design and Construction Engineer for Roads & Transportation. At D&C, we design bike lanes, pedestrian sidewalks, asphalt pavement overlays, slurry seals, bridge replacements, guardrail placement, and more. We have the satisfaction of seeing our final design works in construction. As an Engineer IV and team leader, my role is to supervise our junior engineers, engineering technicians, and inspectors. I am surrounded by an amazing team of experts in their field that make coming into work fun for me.
I graduated from Adamson University in Manila, Philippines in 1981, and the following year I passed the board exam for civil engineering. In 1988, the family immigrated to the United States to have a better life. I started off worked odd jobs, and then in 1991, I was hired by the County as an extra help engineering technician to upgrade the maps in Water & Sanitation in Moorpark. After 2 years, an Engineering Tech position was created, and I became permanent. I passed the Engineer-In-Training board exam, and my position was reclassified from engineering technician to civil engineer. In 2007, I transferred to Roads & Transportation and became a design and construction engineer, where Chris Hooke was my boss and my mentor. From 2007 to date, I have been a part of 60+ projects from pavement resurfacing to bike lanes and repair of bridges and sidewalks.
I tell all my team to go out into the field and see the projects. Every project has a lot of challenges, and the best way to gain experience is to step out of the office and see our design work in action. I also tell them not to be afraid of making mistakes. A good part of engineering is following the standards and making judgment calls, and as long as a design meets requirements to the best of one’s abilities, that’s good work. I say, “If you make a mistake or encounter a potential problem, don’t try to ignore it. Address it immediately to minimize the damage.”
“It’s good to keep your immediate supervisor notified as much as possible. Any successful project requires teamwork,” – That’s what I teach all the young engineers and inspectors. “Try to be honest; if you are honest and fair, your team and your contractors will respect you.”
In my 30 years here at the County, I received 4 Challenge Coins and recently received Employee of the Quarter. I will be retiring December 1 of this year. Upon retirement, I will travel, my first destination probably being Alaska and spend time playing chess, gardening, and playing with my dogs. I have two kids, my wife Edna is a dentist, my older son Kevin (23) is a BS Chem graduate from UCSB, and my youngest Dean (20) is a junior at West Coast taking up nursing.
Lastly, I want to say thank you very much to my team for being professionals, for trusting in me and in each other, and for treating me like family. I would also like to thank my mentor Chris Hooke, for trusting me and letting me grow to become who I am now. He really motivated me to build my confidence as a project manager, giving me 60+ projects and believing in me. I can proudly say “I’m better than nothin’ LOL.”
About Pathways: This newly added section to our monthly “The Works” newsletter – “Pathways” – will highlight the unique pathways that each of us has followed to the Ventura County Public Works Agency. We hope to highlight the “pathways” of an individual in each newsletter. If you have a story you’d like to share for a Pathways feature, please contact our Director of Central Services, Joan Araujo at your earliest convenience.