Long Service to Civil Engineering Industry Earns Rafael Ortega Distinguished Alumni Honor from University of Houston
April 26, 2014
(HOUSTON – April 26, 2014) The University of Houston Alumni Association (UHAA) has selected Rafael Ortega, P.E., vice president of Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), as a 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Honoree. The award will be presented at UHAA’s 60th Annual Awards Gala on April 26 at the Westin Houston, Memorial City hotel.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to individuals whose professional accomplishments have brought credit to the university. Other recipients of this year’s award include Doug Brooks, former Brinker International chairman and chief executive, Andre Ware, sports analyst, commentator and 1989 Heisman Trophy winner, Bill Worrell, Houston Rockets’ play-by-play announcer, and Dr. Philip Zelikow, White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia and former director, 9/11 Commission.
“The award is a tribute to his outstanding service to the city of Houston and the civil engineering industry in the last 33 years,” said LAN President Dennis Petersen. “It’s a great honor that he has worked very hard to achieve.”
Ortega joined LAN in 1981 and has worked on numerous projects impacting the quality of life for Houstonians. These marquee projects include the construction of the city of Houston’s 69th Street wastewater treatment plant, the Northside Sewer Relief Tunnels, and the city’s Surface Water Transmission Program.
As vice president, he directs the LAN business group that focuses on large diameter pipelines. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on large diameter pipelines and has been instrumental in supporting the city of Houston’s conversion of its drinking water source from groundwater to surface water. Ortega has designed more than 300 miles of large diameter pipelines, including over 50 miles of large diameter tunnels.
His pipeline expertise is known nationally through his active involvement in the standards committees for the American Water Works Association along with his leadership role with the American Society of Civil Engineers Pipeline Division. Ortega was named the 2008 “Most Valuable Professional in the Private Sector” by the Gulf Coast Trenchless Association (GCTA). In 2011, Ortega was named to the Academy of Distinguished Civil and Environmental Engineers for the University of Houston.
His other accomplishments include serving on the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission’s Underground Storage Tank Advisory Committee and as Harris County’s representative on the Trans-Texas Water Project. He was appointed by then Governor George W. Bush to the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority and served as a vice chairman and president of the authority’s economic development agency, known as the Gulf Coast Industrial Development Board. Ortega also served as an Ambassador to Guam during the Republican National Convention in Houston in 1992.
Born in Weslaco, Texas, Ortega has lived in Houston since the age of three. After graduating 3rd in his class from Aldine MacArthur High School in 1977, Ortega attended the University of Houston on an academic scholarship. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1981 and his MBA in 1985 from the University of Houston. A resident of the Spring Texas area, he has three children: Rafael “Andy” II, Sara and Austin.