About.com’s Construction Expert Juan Rodriguez On All Things Construction, Renewable Energy, and Professional Advice

Juan Rodriguez Construction Expert, About.com
Juan Rodriguez
Construction Expert, About.com


Juan Rodriguez is a registered Professional Engineer with over 17 years of experience. He completed his Civil Engineering Degree in 1996, and since then he has been working on large infrastructure projects, as well as being actively engaged in design and engineering related jobs. His broad experience working as a home-builder, and on utility scale and commercial projects, allowed him the opportunity to be chosen as the construction expert for About.com. Juan prepares construction industry related articles during his spare time, while most of them are compiled learning experiences from throughout his career. He is acting currently as the Director of Construction for a large renewable energy company in the U.S. and Canada, and also has great experience in construction management and contract negotiations. Juan has been helping builders, contractors and engineers by offering thousands of helpful articles on construction for About.com.


VT: You are the Construction Expert for About.com. What got you into engineering and construction, and what do you love most about it?

JR: Since, I was a kid, my dream was always to become a civil engineer, so I love every minute of my life. The challenges that you face, the amount of details that every construction project has, and the different learning experiences that a project might bring to you are very unique situations that I like about being an engineer in the construction industry. However, this is an industry in which you have a lot of pressure, lots of responsibilities. But, having the opportunity to create structures, power, and facilities that will last for a very long time is something that motivates me, and that’s the reason I love what I am doing right now.


VT: You are also the Director of Construction for the U.S. and Canada at ACCIONA. Can you tell us more about your role and what it’s like in the day and life of a Director of Construction?

JR: There is a lot of pressure, and when you are working with a company as big as ACCIONA, then there is a lot more pressure on your shoulders. There is a lot of responsibility, but primarily keeping a close attention to details, following up with all your co-workers and hearing everybody’s concern is very important, if you want to have a team that will support you and that you can rely upon. I manage all construction projects, working hand in hand with the procurement department, making sure all proposals are accurate, all material is ordered on time, meeting with our site staff and project managers to make sure we are performing as planned, and that every obstacle we find, is overcome with solid and proven solutions. I spend most of the day, preparing reports, discussing with the Engineering Manager the progress of the design, reviewing schedules and production numbers, and planning with the project managers the work that will be executed in the following weeks.

There is always a priority for us, in terms of safety, where we have also spent a considerable amount of time reviewing safety policies in making sure all employees are properly trained and we also discuss the types of hazards that we have seen across the organization.


VT: When it comes to renewable energy in the construction industry, what do you predict will be the role that these sources will have in the future?

JR: There has been a shift over the past years in which you can see utilities are more proactive and are encouraging the use of renewable energy. Renewable energy is here to stay and falling prices are making the technology more and more accessible. Technology has changed, and has changed our lives forever. You can see in some states that renewable energy production is at or below grid prices, and the shift will be in the next years to adopt more and more renewable energy resources, as well as upgrading our existing infrastructure, which is also something that the ASCE has been reporting year after year and we need to act fast.


VT: Working in the industry, what are some of the most amazing structures or projects that you have been able to witness?

JR: Every project has its unique challenges, and for me every structure is beautiful. I have participated in working on large structures, such as rail systems, water distribution lines, housing, retail, solar, and wind. But, I can tell you that two of the most amazing jobs I have witnessed are NYC’s World Trade Center and the Hoover Dam; two massive constructions, each one with unique challenges and are very symbolic for all construction workers and public in general. However, working on a site and seeing how a green field can be turned into a facility that can be used and enjoyed by the public is a great satisfaction for me.


VT: With your tremendous experience and knowledge as a contractor, home-builder, and engineer, how have you been able to apply your career skills and talent into your everyday life?

JR: My wife and my three girls know about how fun it can be spending a day just laughing at my curious ways of thinking. They know that I can find different ways to make them happy, and like a good professional, you will always need to listen to everybody. It’s a team effort where you need every part and every member of it being happy and contributing in different ways. Sometimes I just wait and see the different reactions that my wife and my kids will have on different situations, and I just analyze, think and learn from them. Those actions are used later on to maintain the happy family as we are. I know that a project needs to have a perfect communication plan, so my family understands that it’s all about speaking up and communicating with each other, something I apply on the job as well. There are always multiple ways to solve a problem and find the perfect solution, and my family at home understands that and are pretty aware of it. My wife and kids love perfectionism, so that is something that we are always trying to give one hundred percent of the time in our everyday relationship.


VT: As a Professional Engineer, P.E., what advice do you have for up and coming engineers starting out in the field?

JR: Don’t take anything for granted, work hard, listen and lead. When you are listening you are learning, but you also need to be a leader and don’t let others lead you. They can walk the same pace as you, but you need to be firm and strong. There is a lot going on these days, so you will need to keep learning constantly with new technologies, means and methods. But, remember always to be fair and honest and that will open many doors for you. That’s the key to success.


For more advice and expertise on all things construction, check out Juan Rodriguez’ page ABOUT.COM’S CONSTRUCTION EXPERT

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