Never Quit winner is New Mexico civil engineer who loves a challenge

By AFSCME Staff ·

When you’re stuck in traffic on a bridge, surrounded by dozens of vehicles hundreds of feet above ground, do you marvel at the feat of engineering that keeps you safe?

For the safe bridges we use every day, we have people like Chris Rodela to thank. Rodela is a civil engineer technician for the New Mexico Department of Transportation whose job is to make sure that new bridges being built comply with federal and state regulations.

“It’s important for me to monitor and hold the contractors accountable because projects could fail if I don’t,” he says. “We could have bridges that could collapse. We’re trying to do things correctly for the public.”

Rodela is great at his job, according to co-workers, who say he pays close attention to detail and often adds to his responsibilities by mentoring new employees.

“Chris is a great communicator, a great person, super helpful, very resourceful with all of his knowledge,” says Mellisa Leyba, a co-worker. “He’s always willing to share his knowledge.”

For his service to his community, Rodela, a member of AFSCME Local 3199 (Council 18), is a winner of our union’s Never Quit Service Award, which seeks to recognize public service workers who go above and beyond the call of duty to make their communities better.

“My favorite part about my job is it’s always a challenge,” Rodela says. “I’m always learning something new, it’s always interesting building something from the ground up, and it’s always exciting to see something from a plan set become three dimensional.”

Millions of federal and state dollars are invested in such infrastructure projects, and part of Rodela’s job is to make sure that contractors don’t take any shortcuts. To Rodela, keeping the public safe is his No. 1 priority.

“The most fulfilling thing about my job is the sense of accomplishment I get when I complete the job because I know that that bridge isn’t going to collapse,” he says. “I feel like I helped keep the public safe doing the job I do, monitoring the bridges, and I’m building something that’s going to last for generations.”