PSB’s Santiago named Engineer of the Year

PSB’s Santiago named Engineer of the Year
Posted on 02/20/2019
Dr. Ivonne Santiago

At age 10, El Paso Water’s Dr. Ivonne Santiago received her first lesson in civil engineering. A natural disaster, which flooded her family home in Puerto Rico and left the family’s belongings in ruins, kindled a lifelong devotion in Santiago to change the world.

As a professor, Santiago realized she could change one life at a time. As an engineer, she learned she could change one community at a time.

Industry recognition

The Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) El Paso Chapter recognized Public Service Board member Santiago as the 2019 El Paso Engineer of the Year at a Feb. 15 ceremony. The TSPE award is the highest honor given to an individual professional engineer who has sustained and contributed to the improvement of the public welfare and the advancement of his or her profession.

“I am humbled and honored to be in the company of other El Paso Water recipients – such as John Balliew, Alan Shubert, Fernie Rico, Ed Archuleta who are game-changers and city-changers – of the Engineer of the Year award in this great city of El Paso,” Santiago said. “They have used their beliefs and power to transform our city and our region into a better and safer place for all. What I do is at a smaller scale, but I am thankful that changing lives one student at a time and one community at a time is just as important to TSPE.”

Alan Shubert, (from left) Fernie Rico and John Balliew pose with Dr. Ivonne Santiago after she was named 2019 El Paso Engineer of the Year. Santiago was also presented with a City of El Paso proclamation declaring Feb. 15 Dr. Ivonne Santiago Engineer of the Year Day.Rico, Utility Chief Operations Officer, said Santiago is a strong asset to EPWater, where she has shared her technical expertise on the stormwater, communication and engineering selection committees at the utility.

“We are honored that Dr. Ivonne Santiago, the 2019 Engineer of the Year, is one of our talented El Paso Water Public Service Board members,” Rico said. “We treasure her hard work and dedication to UTEP, El Paso Water and our community.”

Starting over

When Santiago left Puerto Rico, the transition to El Paso was not easy, she said. She was well established as a tenured professor at the University of Puerto Rico and had jobs in both the private and government sector.

“I had to start from scratch in El Paso,” said Santiago, acknowledging that leaving a lush, tropical paradise for the arid Chihuahuan Desert was heartbreaking. “This was a humbling lesson I had to learn: to see beauty beneath the surface, not to rest on my laurels, and to understand that we are but a grain of sand in this beautiful and vast desert.”

Santiago loves being a civil engineer, which she calls a profession of service that involves advocacy and activism. She has worked more than two decades in the water quality and water and wastewater treatment industries in Puerto Rico, New Mexico and Texas.

El Paso Water | All Rights Reserved | Powered by CivicLive | © 2018 West Corporation