News | October 31, 2019

AlumniCollege of Engineering

Connections count in engineering, ’15 alumnus finds

Photo of Angel Hernandez standing and staring off from roadway intersection.If there’s one myth Angel Hernandez (Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, ’15) wants to bust about his industry, it’s the image of a solitary engineer.

“If you think you’re going to go into engineering and work by yourself, you’re mistaken,” Hernandez says.

As a civil analyst with Kimley-Horn, Hernandez relies on team members – and they rely on him – to complete roadway projects across South Florida. A civil analyst is an engineer who has not yet earned a professional license, which requires four years of full-time engineering experience.

Hernandez credits the connections he made at FGCU with helping prepare him for his career.

“I have a lot of contacts professionally because of the student organizations I was a part of,” he says.

One of those contacts is C.J. McFarlane, a former supervisor for FGCU’s Academic and Event Technology Services who now works at Babcock Ranch, and calls Hernandez a good friend.

“He’s a leader,” McFarlane says of Hernandez. “There are few people who work as hard as he does.”

In his role at AETS, Hernandez was responsible for being customer-service focused and helping faculty and staff solve technology challenges they were facing. McFarlane says Hernandez helped the team develop lecture capture technology, create simulation mannequins for nursing students and more.

Now Hernandez is using those professional experiences to help him succeed in two Kimley-Horn offices: Fort Myers and Sarasota.

“I am being a sponge right now,” Hernandez says, “learning as much as I can from the project managers. Kimley-Horn does roadway work in the Fort Myers area, but the department is not yet established, so I’m hoping to become the person that helps bring all the business into the company in that area. It gives me an opportunity to become a better engineer.”

Hernandez says having a locally based department is critical to helping any firm win business in Southwest Florida.

“Companies that have offices based out of the Fort Myers area have an advantage over national companies,” he says. “Whoever the city or county hires, they want them to spend the money locally – the businesses, the restaurants, the beaches.”

Hernandez was born in the Dominican Republic, and has since lived in Miami, Lehigh Acres and now, Fort Myers.

“I’ve been in Southwest Florida for so long, I’ve seen it grow,” he says. “My favorite part isn’t a place, it’s more a progression that the community has made and the changes I see every year … What I love about engineering is that I’m able to help the community.”

Hernandez’s main pieces of advice for students come back to being social – having hobbies and strong friendships to fall back on when the workday – which he says is longer than most for engineers who are just starting their careers – has ended.

“We’re so eager, always, to graduate, but once you graduate, you’re going to find out you had so much free time when you were in school that you took for granted,” Hernandez says. “What I tell students is: Enjoy your time as much as you can at FGCU. Don’t rush the process because you’re tired of studying, because once you get to the ‘real world,’ it’s eye-opening.”