Robert “Bobby” Gonzales will take the helm of the UTEP Alumni Association when he becomes president on Sept. 1, 2017. Gonzales is president and principal-in-charge for Quantum Engineering Consultants, Inc. He is an accomplished multi-sport athlete and certified triathlon coach who also serves as chair of the City of El Paso’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and vice chair of the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Gonzales’ vision for the association is to develop stronger connections between alumni and students and to strengthen their commitment to UTEP.
With UTEP’s launch of the new UTEP Edge initiative, alumni will have many opportunities to contribute to student success, and Gonzales wants to make that a driving force for the board.
Gonzales, who graduated in 1985 with a degree in civil engineering, joined the UTEP Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2011.
UTEP Magazine: What is it about UTEP that you love so much?
Bobby Gonzales: That’s easy. The professors, students and personnel/administrators that I’ve had the privilege of meeting in all the years that I’ve been involved with the University are by far the friendliest, kindest, most down-to-earth individuals I’ve ever met.
UM: Many people believe that alumni engagement is mostly about financial contributions. What is your definition of alumni engagement for UTEP?
BG: It’s definitely not all about financial contributions. One of the main goals of the Alumni Association is to engage the alumni of the institution who can also contribute to, and benefit from, connections to each other and to the University. UTEP is about building connections between alumni and present-day students to foster a sense of community and continuity between generations. Our Alumni Association is committed to a relationship of mutual contributions and benefit, hopefully extending beyond any of our lifetimes.
UM: Why is being an engaged alum so important to you?
BG: I am engaged because I enjoy giving back to the university that helped my career. By staying engaged, I can also act as a positive role model to the students and provide practical support to them as they start their own careers. I believe that alumni engagement, in general, is so important because it also encourages current students to remain involved and active after graduation, perpetuating a good cycle.
UM: How did UTEP give you that competitive edge as a student so that you could become a successful engineer?
BG: I believe the discipline of obtaining a degree from any university helps deal with the challenges later in your career. UTEP gave me the tools I needed to become a successful engineer and be able to compete with graduates from around the country, and I owe this all to all of my professors who prepared me for the next step. The courses I took, coupled with the advice I was given while attending UTEP, gave me the confidence and competitive advantage that transformed me from a student to a professional. Everyone will undoubtedly work with many different personalities while attending UTEP and as they move into the next phases of their life and careers. Although there were no courses on how to develop “thick skin” and a lot of patience, I also learned that I need to work successfully with everyone, regardless of background, communication style and personality. When I graduated from UTEP, I can honestly say that I had no fear in my abilities.
UM: Most people may not know that you had an important role in campus transformation. What was that role and how do you feel it helped improve the image of the university?
BG: Quantum Engineering Consultants, Inc. was a subconsultant to Ten Eyck Landscape Architects for the site civil design of the Campus Transformation Project, which included preliminary design reports; intricate site grading and drainage; permanent stormwater pollution prevention measures; street/roadway design; hike/bike trail design; design of bicycle shared-used lanes on Sun Bowl Drive, Hawthorne Street, University Avenue, and Wiggins Way; and water/wastewater service relocations/replacements, adjustments, extensions, etc. The Campus Transformation project was quite challenging, due to so many unforeseen conditions below the surface, but once the project was complete, the campus looked like an oasis in the desert – absolutely beautiful – making it all worthwhile. I believe the new campus look will increase pride in the University and enrich the quality of campus life.
UM: As president, what is your vision for the UTEP Alumni Association?
BG: My vision as the president is to develop stronger connections between alumni and students and to strengthen their commitment to UTEP.