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Civil engineer continues building on area’s future

Roswell native Francisco Sanchez, recently named by the Department of Transportation as District Two engineer, has more than 20 years experience working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, City of Roswell, and NMDOT District Two. He began his NMDOT career seven years ago. (Submitted Photo)

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Francisco Sanchez, a native of Roswell, was recently named District Two engineer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. He previously served as assistant district engineer, overseeing highway maintenance and project design in southeast New Mexico. In his new role as engineer, he will manage all district operations, construction and maintenance.

Sanchez says the choices that led him to a career in engineering began at an early age.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields,” he said. “Math was definitely a strength of mine throughout school. The construction field always fascinated me, especially the creation of bridges, highways and structures. That desire to learn more about this type of construction is what led me to pursue a degree in civil engineering.”

Other past successes include his time in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he said he spent two years gaining more knowledge.

“I began my career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, going through the Engineer in Training program and ultimately being assigned to the structures department,” Sanchez said. “This provided me with a valuable engineering foundation, and taught me how to apply the principles to real-world situations.”

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With much of his career spent working for the city of Roswell and New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), Sanchez said: “I am extremely proud of the 12 years working at the city of Roswell Engineering Department. The projects I worked on in conjunction with city staff had a direct positive impact to the community.

“The last seven years with NMDOT has also been extremely rewarding,” he said. “As a team member, I was responsible for project development and design in improving the state highway system for southeast New Mexico.”

Sanchez said he is looking forward to the upcoming work.

“As District Two Engineer, I’ll be representing southeast New Mexico in a transportation leadership role, work with local government agencies, ensure District Two is delivering transportation projects selected for the State Transportation Improvement Program, and planning future projects that enhance economic development while providing the highest level of safety for the traveling public. I have to say I am truly excited about the upcoming transportation projects.

“The New Mexico Department of Transportation has seen an increase in funding through our state legislators and governor. … This influx of additional funding will allow NMDOT to design and begin construction projects that are truly transformative,” he said.

Those projects, Sanchez said, will include reconstruction of U.S. 285 from the Texas state line through Loving and major drainage and roadway improvements in Clovis, among others.

“The additional funding has also provided District Two’s Maintenance Section with operational equipment that will assist maintenance staff in addressing critical roadway and bridge needs,” Sanchez said. He said he encourages the public to visit the NMDOT website to view all its future ventures and for more information.

Sanchez’s love for New Mexico can be seen in numerous examples of community involvement, and he says he tries to do his part to make the area better.

“I just try my best to be a positive role model and contribute to the community,” he said. “Like many growing up, I had a passion for sports — especially basketball. I was a decent baseball and basketball player for Roswell High, although my only sporting career ‘claim to fame’ is being the Poe Corn MVP. I jokingly bring this up every year at the annual tournament only to receive the traditional eye-roll from the family.”

As a young man, he said his major goal was to play in the annual state championship at The Pit in Albuquerque. “This did not happen, as the team fell one game short my senior year, a major disappointment at that time,” he said.

After his acceptance of the city of Roswell engineering position, Sanchez was asked by current Roswell Independent School District’s athletic director and coach at that time, Britt Cooper, if he was interested in being an assistant coach.

“I gladly accepted and was lucky enough to be on the staff for two state championships,” he said. “I continued coaching boys’ and girls’ basketball at Sierra Middle School and now currently coach Berrendo Middle School’s seventh-grade boys’ basketball.

“What I enjoy the most is promoting the six pillars of character, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. This is the true intent of youth sports.”

Sanchez is also an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Their vision is that civil engineers are global leaders, building a better quality of life. He said he uses the platform to speak at high schools, community colleges and at career-day events — encouraging students to continue their education and promoting civil engineering as a career.

“The nation’s infrastructure is aging and there is not enough civil engineers to keep up with the demand for improvements,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez expressed appreciation for his family. “I always wish to thank my wife, Sonia,” he said. “She has always been there for me, supporting my career, being an awesome mother and life partner. We are truly blessed and have shared an amazing life that includes our wonderful son, Joaquin Sanchez, who we are extremely proud of. He just turned 13 and is demonstrating an interest in the STEM field. Of course, he will be encouraged to pursue any other interests, as well.

“I love that my son is growing up here, surrounded by family,” he said.

He is also grateful for his parents, Frank and Hilda Sanchez. “They instilled values, provided encouragement, and supported my educational and career goals,” he said.

When it comes to his career, Sanchez acknowledges his past and present engineering mentors, city engineers David Storey and Louis Najar, for showing him what being a professional engineer is all about.

“I give special thanks to NMDOT District Two staff, as well, because I have learned so much from them. I have tremendous respect for their efforts in improving southeast New Mexico, and I’m honored to be chosen to lead.

“Being very proud to have grown up in Roswell, I’m truly excited to be part of improving and contributing to the area’s growth in my new role.”

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Amy Lignor Special to the Daily Record