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The Moment I Wanted to be an Engineer

posted Nov 20, 2019, 4:01 AM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Nov 20, 2019, 4:02 AM ]

Yesterday, Lou Rodriguez addressed a group of students at the LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, New Jersey in support of their Sustainability Initiative Kick-Off Event. He discussed careers in engineering and presented his story of how he became a civil engineer. 

There is a great misconception that people know what they want to do in life at en early.  Well, I absolutely, positively, had no idea what I wanted to be at your age.

It’s the summer of 1987 and I'm 19 years old. I had just completed my freshman year at Millersville University where I was studying computer science.  My freshman year was a mess...I was on academic (GPA 1.69) and social conduct (party in my dorm room) probation for most of my tenure at Millersville.  I had no idea what I wanted to do in life besides have fun.

That summer my mom got me a job working for a construction company that cleared land for housing developments.  My job as a laborer paid $6/hr under the table which seemed great at the time.  Every morning,  I met up with a crew of guys and our objective was to knock down as many trees as possible, not very sustainable.  Our crew was typically one guy in a front-end loader, a few guys with chainsaws, and a few laborers like me.  The trees we took down were always marked with pink ribbons that were set by individuals I usually didn't see.

One day our objective was something a little different, we were to build septic systems for the new homes.  Each septic system involved digging a hole about 10-feet by 20-feet by 5-feet deep.  My job was to rake the stone that was dumped in the hole and make sure it was level. Pretty exciting.

On this particularly hot July day, I happened to see some guys chopping their way through the woods with machetes and placing pink ribbons on the trees in the distance.  The guys were wearing khaki shorts, boots, and safety vests.  I asked my coworker that was driving the front end loader, “who are those guys?”  He replied, “those are the civil engineers!” In actuality they were land surveyors but close enough.

As I stood in the trench covered with dirt and sweat, I looked at those men and pondered the answer again, “Civil engineers, huh? That’s what I want to be.”

That night I sat out on my back deck pondering my future.  I was pretty sure I was not going back to Millersville.  My mom came outside and asked what I was thinking about.  I told her that I was thinking of leaving Millersville and that I wanted to be a civil engineer.  My mom replied, “That’s what you are going to be, a civil engineer.”  I committed to attending Widener University's School of Engineering the next day and the rest is history.

Lairon Lawrence - Inspired by His Father to be an Engineer

posted Jul 2, 2019, 3:32 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Sep 16, 2019, 5:06 AM ]

Lairon Lawrence grew up in Edenton, North Carolina, a historic colonial town situated along the Albemarle Sound.   His father worked as a mechanical drafter and welder and always inspired to help Lairon understand how the world worked.  This curiosity led Lairon to study civil engineering at Widener University in Chester, PA where he also grew to love the Philadelphia sports scene.  His engineering career has been heavily committed to helping rebuild Philadelphia's aging infrastructure. Here is his story…

Lairon's Take on the Phillies' Manager

Joanna Sajewska Supinska - Polish Farm Girl to USA Geospatial Leader

posted Jul 2, 2019, 3:32 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Oct 29, 2019, 1:57 PM ]

Joanna Sajewska Supinska grew up in a village named Siemiatkowo which is located in a rural section of east-central Polandabout 62 miles northwest of Warsaw.  Her father owns a farm in the village and when she was young he “planted a seed” in her mind that one day she would become a land surveyor.  On that day her father took her onto the farm and showed her a survey monument that marked the corner of his property.  He was looking to delineate the property lines of his farm and he taught Joanna why these markers were set in the ground and their importance when it came to property ownership.  She was very interested in learning more and he suggested that she pursue a career in geodesy.  Who knew that that seed which took root on a farm in Poland would someday grow roots that would spread all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States where fields of opportunities would await her? Here is her story…
Joanna attended college at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn where she studied in the Department of Geodesy, Spatial Engineering & Construction.  She obtained a Bachelor's Degree with an emphasis in geodesy and real estate appraisal and a Master's Degree with an emphasis in geodesy and satellite navigation.   While in college she worked as an intern at several land surveying companies but after graduation, she found that there were not a lot of career opportunities in her field in Poland. 

Although English is not her first language, Joanna quickly learned how to apply the geodesy skills she learned in Poland to her new company. Joanna was also not afraid to throw on a pair of boots and work with a variety of different equipment in the field.  Her skills went far beyond a traditional land surveying total stations as she was able to utilize global positioning systems (GPS) and 3D laser scanners on projects in an urban or rural environment.  She was also able to translate land surveying data using a variety of computer software into property plans or engineering drawings.   

Although she did not find a lot of opportunities in geodesy in Poland after graduation, Joanna did not lose faith in her career.  One of her aunts had recently moved to the United States and told Joanna she felt there were plenty of opportunities for her in New Jersey. Joanna has an adventurous spirit and she felt she was ready for whatever challenges may come her way in the USA.  In 2013 she applied for a Geospatial Specialist position at Rodriguez in Philadelphia.  She was quickly hired and was amazed to find out she wasn't the only female Polish land surveyor working at the firm (more on that story in a future episode).
Over the past six years, Joanna's skills and attention to detail have been an invaluable asset to facility managers, property owners, and utility companies here in the USA. In 2016 Joanna worked on a project at Jefferson Hospital that involved scanning a piece of public artwork and her skills were noticed by the director of a new program at Jefferson University called Geospatial Technology for Geodesign. She was asked to develop and teach a graduate course called GeoDesign Explorations for their College of Architecture and the Built Environment.  The young girl from a village in Poland is now a mentor to many in the USA.  
Oh yes, that same year Joanna became a U.S. Citizen.

Engineers & Surveyors, Real-Life Superheroes

posted Jun 16, 2019, 1:20 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Jun 16, 2019, 1:27 PM ]

In this age of “Superheroes,” it can be easy to disregard the many heroes that we cross paths with on a daily basis, nurses, teachers, police officers, construction workers, and engineers. Civil engineers and land surveyors play a vital role in managing the infrastructure (e.g. buildings, roads, water systems, utilities) that our society needs in order to function.  We can easily take for granted the roles that engineers play in society every time we swim in the ocean or drink a glass of water.

Katie Gipson Ware - Country Girl to City Engineer
At Rodriguez, our engineers, surveyors, and construction inspectors play a vital role in managing the infrastructure that operates in the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding region.  We specialize in collecting data and applying specialized knowledge to make the best-informed decisions to manage infrastructure and creating sustainable communities.

Engineers and surveyors may do amazing things but we are typically challenged to illustrate these things in a way that the general public can easily understand and appreciate.  To help overcome this challenge we have partnered with Dylan Bolden, a talented comic artist and illustrator that recently graduated from the Moore College of Art & Design.  Over the course of the summer we will launch a series of infographics that will tell the story of our team and the important work we do.

Enjoy our first story on Katie Gipson Ware, a Country Girl Turned City Engineer.



“It's hard for many people to believe that there are extraordinary things inside themselves, as well as others.” - Elijah Price Unbreakable (2000)

Katie Gipson Ware - Country Girl to City Engineer

posted Jun 16, 2019, 1:10 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Jun 19, 2019, 3:11 PM ]

Growing up in rural Tennessee, Katie Gipson Ware has always been fascinated with the environment. Prior to fully realizing her passion, Katie was interested in pursuing a career in medicine at the University of Tennessee. However, she quickly realized her interests were more directed toward climate change. After one semester, Katie changed her major to pursue a career in Civil Engineering. One of the aspects of civil engineering that appealed the most to Katie was stormwater management. After beginning her career in Tennessee, Katie decided she wanted to learn more about engineering in an urban environment. Upon moving to Philadelphia, Katie came across an opening at Rodriguez Consulting that had a focus on green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). Katie is now able to experience urban engineering along with working on projects that deal with her interests.

Spending a lot of time at her grandfather’s farm in Tennessee, Katie became fascinated with nature at a young age. As she continued to grow up, her love for the outdoors continued to flourish. Katie became very interested in climate change and other environmental issues.

While continuing her college career in engineering, she became interested in stormwater. Katie became very knowledgeable on the topic of stormwater through various jobs and opportunities. She worked at a stream restoration company which only further her interest in the topic.


Despite her passion for the environment, she decided to pursue a medical degree at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. During her first semester, Katie read a book about climate change that made her realize that she wanted to make a positive impact on the environment. Katie began researching jobs that focus on the environment. After one semester, Katie decided the medical path was not for her. She changed her major to engineering.

After a few years, Katie decided to move to Philadelphia to learn about urban stormwater infrastructure. When she moved to Philadelphia, she applied at Rodriguez where she now handles many of the water sewer and stormwater projects.

Rodriguez Welcomes Rex Clark to Our Team!

posted Apr 24, 2019, 2:10 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Apr 24, 2019, 2:18 PM ]

Rodriguez Consulting is excited to announce a new addition to our team, Rex Clark, PLS.  Rex Clark is a Professional Land Surveyor with over 25 years of experience in land surveying, construction, and project management.  As Rodriguez's Survey Manager, Rex now leads and directly manages all aspects of the work of survey crews involved with boundary and topographic surveys, ALTA surveys, construction stakeout, 3D scanning, and as-built surveys. 

Rex has a degree in Landscape Architecture and offers a unique perspective on land planning and land development strategies.  Prior to joining Rodriguez, Rex operated his own land surveying firm which was based in Everett, PA.  Rex has served 27 years in the United State Air Force and Reserve.  He is also an active member of the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors and a Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 415 Cornwall, PA.

“Rex's knowledge of geospatial technology, such as 3D laser scanning, coupled with a landscape architecture background has made an immediate impact with our staff and clients," explained Lou Rodriguez, CEO of Rodriguez, “We look forward to Rex leading our geospatial operations moving forward .”

Welcome aboard Rex!

Rodriguez Welcomes Lairon Lawrence to Our Team!

posted Mar 25, 2019, 1:06 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Mar 26, 2019, 2:36 AM ]

Rodriguez Consulting is excited to announce a new addition to our team, Lairon Lawrence.  Lairon is a civil engineer with 15 years of experience in urban land development projects involving site/civil engineering design, PWD infrastructure and stormwater design and construction administration.  He is also experienced with obtaining pre-requisite approvals from local and state agencies.  Lairon is originally from Edenton, North Carolina, a historic colonial town situated along the Albemarle Sound.  Lairon completed his college education at Widener University and obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering.

Lairon is passionate about playing sports, fishing, kayaking and enjoying outdoor activities with family and friends during the summer. He is also a sports fanatic who is an avid North Carolina Tarheels and Dallas Cowboys fan who looks forward to the NFC East rivalries each year.

“Lairon brings a wide range of skills and a wealth of Philadelphia infrastructure knowledge to our firm,” explained Lou Rodriguez, CEO of Rodriguez, “It's also great to add another Widener alumni to our team.”

Welcome aboard Lairon!

Rodriguez Unveils New Jeep Wranglers for Inspectors

posted Feb 13, 2019, 3:10 AM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Feb 13, 2019, 3:18 AM ]

Rodriguez is excited to announce a new addition of some newly branded Jeep Wranglers that will be used by our stormwater inspection team to support our work with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD).  Rodriguez stormwater construction inspectors work under the direction of Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to supplement construction oversight provided by property owners and designers.  The team inspects both Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) measures and stormwater management practice (SMP)  installation to verify that private development sites are maintained properly and correct installation practices are used.

These new Jeep Wranglers are just one of the tools used by Rodriguez field staff to perform their duties.  The Jeep's rugged, yet nimble design, will allow our inspectors to efficiently and safely navigate the streets of Philadelphia in all weather conditions and potential go off road when necessary.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

posted Dec 21, 2018, 10:00 AM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Dec 21, 2018, 10:05 AM ]

Merry Christmas from everyone at Rodriguez!
We hope your holidays will be filled with joy and laughter through the New Year.

The story of our 2018 Christmas card is an interesting one... 

One of our most exciting projects in 2018 was performing building documentation and land surveying services of Building 640 in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, featured on the front of the card. Rodriguez’s geospatial team efficiently and accurately utilized 3D laser scanning technology to document this historic, four-story, building which included the building facade, window and door openings, rooms, hallways, stairwells, elevator shafts, and mechanical rooms.  We also utilized conventional land surveying equipment and techniques to tie multi-floor interior and exterior laser scan data sets together and generated an accurate and detailed seamless point cloud of the entire building and surrounding site that was used by the project architect for design purposes. 

After reviewing a number of project photos from 2018, Lou centered in on the photo at the bottom right that was taken outside of Building 640 on a gorgeous summer day while our geospatial team was inside the abandoned building working under much more challenging conditions. Lou crudely sketched up an idea of a winter scene at Building 640 (see photo second from the bottom) and threw his idea over to graphic designer and artist extraordinaire, Valerie Lang, of Sundew Designs.   Valerie has created numerous pieces of artwork out of Rodriguez project photos for years.  You can see how Valerie's creative mind can produce beauty out of Lou's crazy ideas in the two images at the top. The final one serves as the cover of our 2018 Christmas card. 

Built between 1919 and 1942, Building 640 is located in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was once utilized as a barracks for U.S. Marines who guarded the facility. This historic building is a contributing feature to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard Historic District and is on the National Register. The building was closed by the Navy in 2000 and there are plans to convert it into a 230-room four-star hotel.

Rodriguez Welcomes Brandon Cleary to Our Team!

posted Oct 18, 2018, 2:36 PM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Oct 19, 2018, 8:52 AM ]

Rodriguez Consulting is excited to announce a new addition to our team, Brandon Cleary.  Brandon is a 2017 graduate of West Deptford High School. After his high school completion, Brandon was looking for a career that would relate to his interests in the outdoors, history, and metal detecting. After meeting and consulting with Lou Rodriguez, he discovered that land surveying was a career he wanted to pursue. Despite only having a year of experience, Brandon has gained a vast amount of knowledge in regards to land surveying equipment and technology. Rodriguez has helped him develop a deeper understanding of career paths in engineering and land surveying. Brandon is now attending Rowan College of Gloucester County in the evening to improve his skills and begin his journey to achieve a surveying license.

Brandon is a diehard fan of all Philadelphia sports teams but is especially fond of the Eagles. When he is not working, Brandon spends his free time exploring the outdoors through fishing, hiking, metal detecting, and off-roading.  

“There are so many opportunities to enter the world of infrastructure that do not require a college degree,” explained Lou Rodriguez, CEO of Rodriguez “Rodriguez is committed to supporting job creation at all levels and we look forward to guiding Brandon throughout his career journey.”

Welcome aboard Brandon!

Look for Brandon as he's out and about with our surveyors 
mapping streets and waterways throughout Philadelphia

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