A Closer Look at Neighborhood Sponsor RICK Engineering

OH! San Diego’s Southeastern San Diego Neighborhood sponsor, RICK Engineering Company, has had a hand in projects that connect and enrich communities across the region, while also spearheading outreach programs to promote the diverse field of engineering to our local youth.

Following is an interview between a local Woodbury University San Diego architecture student, Kayleigh Cornejo, and civil engineer Edgar Camerino, principal and manager of Public Works, Transportation Division, for RICK Engineering. Listen in as they discuss the profession of civil engineering, Edgar’s journey into the field, and RICK Engineering’s community enrichment projects in Southeastern San Diego. Hear more from Cornejo and Camerino as they participate in Design Your Future, a panel discussion for youth, coming up on March 5 in partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

(KC): When and how did you first realize you wanted to be an engineer? What about the profession most drew your attention?

(EC): I’ve always wanted to be either an architect or an engineer. I’ve always loved looking at architecture; and I’ve always enjoyed seeing things get built. Since San Diego State University did not offer an architectural program, I chose the path of mechanical engineering and ultimately switched to civil engineering.

I actually had no clue about civil engineering when I applied to SDSU.  It wasn’t until I started taking some structural classes that I found out about the civil engineering field. Civil engineering was more related to architecture than mechanical engineering, so I changed majors and the rest is history.

(KC): What type of personality traits would you say make a good engineer?

(EC): Hard working, team player, great communicator, curious/inquisitive, detail oriented, passionate and enjoys engineering.

(KC):  As an architecture student, I always get told “You must be great at math!”—which sadly is not entirely true—but architecture is not so much a math game as engineering, I’m told. Are there any misconceptions about the profession you have come across, or information you would like to give to enlighten people about the beauties of engineering?

(EC): I agree.  You don’t necessarily need to be great at math.  I feel you more so need to have a desire or a passion to become an engineer (or whatever you want to do in life). One misconception is that engineers are nerds; although my daughters may beg to differ.  If you want to make a difference in society or in someone’s life, then engineering may be for you.  My field, civil engineering, is a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine – which is the built environment- while protecting and restoring the natural environment.  Civil engineering branches out into various technical areas such as transportation, structural, environmental, geotechnical, and construction to name a few.  My area of expertise is transportation engineering where I oversee the design of highways, freeways and roadways.  One project I am currently working on (which is in the construction phase) is the West Mission Bay Drive Bridge Replacement Project for the City of San Diego. If you visit the site, you will notice some project renderings that were prepared by the Bridge Architect, Safdie Rabines Architects.

(KC): In laymen’s terms, what do you do?

(EC): I design roadways and transportation facilities (e.g. freeways, highways, streets, bike paths).

(KC): What is most rewarding to you about your work?

(EC): Designing the project, then watching the project get built.

(KC): Is it hard to work alongside architects and their sometimes unrealistic ideas? What issues, if any, arise most often between an architect’s design and an engineer’s path to bringing it to reality? 

(EC): It can sometimes pose a challenge if an architect is looking at a project more two-dimensionally. When engineers translate the designs to a three-dimensional site, and to specific site conditions, it can sometimes mean revising their site design. This can mean changing a building footprint or even a building relocation. But we have a great deal of experience in this area and we have developed strong collaborative relationships with our architectural partners.

(KC): Tell me about some of the projects RICK Engineering has been involved with in Southeastern San Diego.

(EC): Our firm has been involved with the following projects in the Southeastern community of San Diego:

  • Market Creek Plaza (Food-4-Less, creek improvements, Jacobs Center, KIPP Charter School, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, other retail)
  • Trolley Residential (aka Trolley Apartments – 52 units)
  • Northwest Village Creek (creek improvements, Walgreens entitlements)
  • Access Youth Academy
  • Euclid Retail
  • Market St. & Euclid St. Complete Streets (Preliminary Design Concepts)
  • Southwest Village (affordable housing 200+ units in preliminary stages)
  • SR-94 at Euclid Avenue Interchange Improvements
  • Various additional studies of the Jacobs properties in the area

(KC): How is RICK Engineering helping to inspire youth to consider a career in engineering?

(EC): RICK Engineering has worked with students from elementary school age through college. We educate students about civil engineering by attending outreach events such as Engineering Day at the Mall to hosting a shadow day event where high school and college students have the opportunity to talk and shadow an engineer for a day.  We are also actively involved with the following organizations, such as: the MESA Program (representing SDSU [including the Imperial Valley Campus], community colleges, and high schools), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

(KC): RICK Engineering has a vastly diverse portfolio: geographically, culturally, and programmatically. How has this come about?

(EC): It is inherent of the culture at RICK Engineering Company (RICK). We have been in the business for over 66 years and I’ve been with the company for over 25 years. It has always been our company’s philosophy to give back to the community; in any way possible. Most importantly, it is the outstanding people that we have at RICK that truly make giving back happen.

Edgar Camerino


Public Works: Transportation Division Manager

RICK Engineering

Kayleigh Cornejo

5th Year Architecture Student

Woodbury University, San Diego

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