Leading with Science in the water sector to encourage and inspire the next generation of engineers
Submitted by Tetra Tech
Rod Cashe is a civil engineering discipline lead and senior project manager with Tetra Tech. He leads teams of engineers and other technical staff in various offices in Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Rod’s more than 30 years of experience includes civil and site engineering projects for various public and private facilities. He has provided stormwater management planning, engineering design, and hydrologic and hydraulic modeling for citywide infrastructure and regional stormwater management facilities. Rod also has experience working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency map revision process for floodplain management. His federal and municipal projects range from U.S. Department of Defense troop and officer housing and specialty officer complexes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOPE VI multifamily housing initiative.
Rod received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida in 1987. He also completed graduate courses focused on water resource engineering at the University of Central Florida in 1997. Rod is a professional engineer in Florida and Georgia.
What inspired you to go into civil engineering?
For me, it all began when I was in the ninth grade at a career day event. There was a gentleman there representing the civil engineering profession. I’m chuckling now, because the way he dressed made an impression on me. He looked unfashionable—at the time some would call it dowdy. But I didn’t let that deter me from walking over to his table. We chatted for a few minutes, and he talked about his career as an engineer and told me about some of the exciting projects he worked on. He also gave me a pamphlet about the civil engineering profession. This encounter led me on a journey that ultimately influenced my choice to major in civil engineering at the University of Florida.
Tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on at Tetra Tech that have been the most inspirational to you.
The City of Deltona in central Florida has been a client of Tetra Tech’s since 1998. In 2002 they were inundated with more than 90 inches of rain in a calendar year—nearly twice the annual average for this region of Florida. Major flooding in the city’s largest watershed, which is an area of 23 square miles, temporarily displaced hundreds of residents due to inoperable septic drain fields from saturated groundwater conditions. The governor of Florida declared a state of emergency for the city, which enabled them to initiate emergency design and construction to route the outfall conveyance.
I had the opportunity to be the engineer of record for this first-of-its-kind infrastructure project to be completed in Florida. Tetra Tech’s solution was an emergency overflow system to lower flood levels by routing surface water flow to a downstream river. I worked on the hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, design, permitting, and construction administration. The project successfully reduced the flooding, bringing much needed relief to the residents of the city. We subsequently developed a long-term plan of water quality projects required to offset nutrient loads into the receiving waterbody. There was nothing more gratifying than the appreciation from city leaders.
Another project I had the privilege of working on as project manager was the City of Cape Coral Utility Expansion Project (UEP) for the Southwest 6 and 7 Utility Extension project in Florida. This was part of an $81 million program that encompassed four square miles of mostly residential areas that included design, permitting, and construction management of more than 65 miles of road reconstruction; more than 200 miles of utility infrastructure for potable watermain, reuse irrigation main, and stormwater pipes; and 18 sanitary sewer lift stations. Some project highlights include the use of GIS technology to develop a maintenance of traffic mobile application for city residents and a well-organized quality assurance/quality control process. Our article about the project titled “Using Technology to Facilitate Construction of a Utility Expansion Project” was featured in the Florida Water Resources Journal.
What do you do outside of your work that you think makes a difference for today’s environment?
I enjoy encouraging middle and high school students to be part of the next generation of engineers through participation in career day activities. This is how I was first introduced to the engineering profession, which led to my interest in pursuing civil engineer as a career. I also volunteer and serve on the board of the Florida Stormwater Association, which actively seeks to protect water resources.
Are we making progress in creating a better world for ourselves?
Absolutely we are! Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, we continue to see how the world benefits from the efforts of our engineers. Tetra Tech is certainly doing its part, Leading with Science®!
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