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Chico State

Civil Engineering Alum Impresses with International Assistance

When a major storm event triggered a landslide in Georgia in early this past year, destroying roadways, the country turned to the U.S. Forest Service for assistance. Angelica Perez-Delgado (BS, Civil Engineering, ’15) started assisting the project team with support in the initial stages, including mapping and computerized drawings and then had the opportunity to provide support on the ground overseas.

Just six months after her hiring as a civil engineer for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the Chico State alumna was excited to be involved in an important international project.

“She did a great job with email instructions and coming up with the product that was needed in the summer of 2015 right after the landslide,” said Rene Renteria, geotechnical and dams group leader. “When I had the opportunity to create a team to go over to Tbilisi, Georgia this past January through February, I wanted her civil engineering skills. I was impressed right away with her go-to attitude.”

Drill Crew and Team Leader
Members of the drilling company GeoEngineering, Ltd. from Azerbaijan stand with Angelica Perez-Delgado (BS, Civil Engineering, ’15), far right, at a landslide in the country of Georgia (Photo courtesy of Giorgi Chkheidze).

Perez-Delgado provided drawings of what the roads should look like to include a retaining wall, culverts and estimates on how much the costs would be for local contractors. Her work often included doing surveys outside in temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

That didn’t stop her from getting the job done. In fact, Perez-Delgado was more concerned about her colleagues in Georgia.

“They have such a crazy work ethic there,” she said. “One guy didn’t even have a warm coat or gloves, but here he was out there with me in such cold weather. I told him to take a break and warm up his hands in the car.”

Perez-Delgado designed the new roadway alignment and tunnel location outside the boundaries of the Georgian landslide using LIDAR, Autocad and Civil 3D. She provided everything needed, including plan and profile drawings, and calculations in metric to begin construction for emergency response.

She enjoyed the culture in Georgia and often worked around the language barrier by learning a few words in Georgian and finding creative ways to communicate.

“It was really fun,” Perez-Delgado said of being in a foreign country. “The people are so friendly and helpful. I knew some basic words, but often I’d have to draw something and point to it to communicate what we were doing. The whole experience made me feel good, like I was doing something for others.”

Angelica Perez-Delgado sets up equipment to begin surveying the upper portion of the slide in Georgia while waiting for team members (Photo courtesy of Perez-Delgado).

Perez-Delgado learned her work ethic from her parents, Anselmo and Alicia Perez.

“My dad always gave it his all when he went to work,” she said. “I feel like working hard will help me learn quicker and get more done. I like being challenged. Being a go-getter comes from my parents.”

Angelica Perez-Delgado, center, stands with her parents Anselmo and Alicia Perez at graduation from Chico State on May 16, 2015 (Photo courtesy of the Perez family).

Her school and mentors also played a major role, she said.

“I’ve been extremely lucky to have crossed paths with and received mentorship from many great people including my supervisors, coworkers, and especially my Chico State MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program community,” she said.

“She took everything we threw at her,” said Perez-Delgado’s supervisor Virginia Jones, an engineer with the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. “I’ve been grateful to be able to mentor her. This job in Georgia was not easy. The professional drawings she did just one year out of college are of very high quality. Angie went far and above the required, volunteering extra hours to ensure that this mission was accurate in every detail.”

For her efforts she was recognized by Val Mazainis, director of International Programs. She also was a winner at the Regional Forester Honor Awards with Rookie of the Year for the entire Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses 18 national forests, 21 million acres and over 7,500 employees.

“She has a quest for learning,” Renteria said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to have her on any team. She has an interest and would do well on future international missions.”

This story was republished with permission from the U.S. Forest Service.