The Portrait Conversation 8<br>Rachel Donovan, Bridge Engineer<br>A Unique Point of View

The Portrait Conversation 8
Rachel Donovan, Bridge Engineer
A Unique Point of View

Enjoy special guest Rachel Donovan, CalTrans Area Bridge Maintenance Engineer, and myself, in The Portrait Conversation, a live Zoom portrait in words and paint.

Part 1 (September 5, 2020)
Discussion of preparation for a trip onto a bridge, and a look back on the journey Rachel has taken that led her to study, research and work in civil engineering, transportation signage, multi-modal transportation management and much more.

Part 2 (September 12, 2020)
What exactly does a CalTrans Area Bridge Maintenance Engineer do? Find this out, and much more, in this fascinating conversation.

Here are links mentioned during The Portrait Conversation:

The Jean Genies (David Bowie Tribute).

Let’s Go Vegan-ish (Facebook), Let’s Go Vegan-ish (Webpage) (founded by Rachel).

Open For Animals (Rachel is an editor and contributor).

SPRAT … these are the rope access techniques we are using for inspecting bridges.

Here’s the camera I use on bridge inspections (in addition to my state-issued iphone in a protective case with a tether on it):
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 Digital Camera

The wifi connectivity on this camera enables us to put the camera on a pole and operate it remotely from our iphones. This enables us to get a closer photograph in tight spaces that we can’t fit into or that are up higher. They don’t make this model anymore, so the new engineers are getting a different camera, but this is the one I’ve been using for most of the 8 years I’ve been there.

Research Science Institute (RSI) at the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT), funded by the Center for Excellence in Education (Rachel was chosen for this program in 1992 and did a research internship at Biogen, which was an important part of her career path).

Texas A&M Entomology Department (where Rachel worked while a student in college; Bob Wharton was Rachel’s boss).

Texas Transportation Institute (where Rachel did her research internship in graduate school).

The Mineta Transportation Institute Alumni Association at San Jose State University (Rachel is the webmaster and edits the alumni newsletter).

The Master’s Degree in Transportation Management at San Jose State University (which is now available for anyone across the world to participate in, via zoom).

Rachel was awarded Alameda County Bicycle Commuter of the Year in 2014 for her work in motivating Caltrans employees to participate in a bike to work program.

Rachel was awarded the MTI Alumna of the Year Award in 2020.

Rachel, originally from Cameron, Missouri, studied for her first Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering at the Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. She started her professional engineering career working at Texas A&M Department of Entomology and then at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute with field research on bi-lingual signage. She is currently an Area Bridge Maintenance Engineer for Caltrans (California Department of Transportation), taking care of the beautiful bridges that span the San Francisco Bay. She has a Masters in Transportation Management from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University and is currently studying for a Bachelors Degree (it’ll be her second) in Fine Art at the Community College of San Francisco. She is founder of the “Let’s Go Vegan-ish” Facebook group, co-founder of website, editor of the MTI alumni newsletter, and is a very keen dancer, rock climber, cyclist and all-round outdoors-woman – all skills she puts to good use in her career inspecting bridges, as you’ll find out!

Photo: Rachel Donovan

Photo: Rachel Donovan


Please click on these wingtips to support the creation and sharing of art, entertainment and inspiration on this site. Besides donation, another way to support is by joining which gives you access to hundreds of tutorial videos, custom digital art extras and participation in member-only online courses. The shoes shown in this photo were amongst my first dance shoes when I started Lindy Hop swing dancing and were signed by two of my dance inspirational heroes: Frankie Manning and Norma Miller.

Jeremy Sutton

Originally from London, I studied drawing, sculpture and print-making at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, Oxford University (while earning a degree in Physics), and subsequently studied at the Vrije Academie in The Hague, The Netherlands. I\'ve been using digital paint since 1991, including every version of Painter. I love teaching and have taught workshops and given presentations all over the world for the last twenty years. I create commissioned fine art paintings and perform live action painting and digital portraiture. I founded PaintboxTV in February 2009. Thank you for being part of this creative community!

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