Recap - March 2021 Lunch Program
On March 18th, WTS Sacramento virtually welcomed Caltrans District 6 Director, Diana Gomez, to share her unique journey spanning a 30-year career in the transportation engineering field. Director Gomez’s story began with her experience as a high school student from Parlier, a rural, farming community located within Fresno County. Despite not having access to core STEM classes such as physics, calculus and geometry at high school, Gomez was determined to study engineering in college. After graduation she enrolled in California State University, Fresno, where she pursued her degree in Electrical Engineering.
As a college graduate, Director Gomez began her career as an electrical engineer at Caltrans, District 6, where she developed hardware and software for early ITS systems for traffic management. As a Hispanic woman in electrical engineering, Gomez recalls how she perceived herself as a triple-minority, which made it difficult to assimilate within the civil engineering field. Yet she was determined to show her colleagues that electrical engineers can also be equally successful at Caltrans.
Throughout Director Gomez’ illustrious career, she credits her success to strong mentorship, her willingness to sacrifice, and her ability to take calculated risks for the purpose of career advancement. When reflecting on her decisions, Diana states “We get into our comfort zones and think that we don’t need to move up. But to move up, you have to make personal sacrifices”. As her career progressed from being Senior Electrical Engineer at Caltrans District 6 to Deputy District Director of Traffic Operations at District 7, to Central Valley Regional Director for California High Speed Rail, and finally, to District Director at Caltrans District 6, Gomez recounts the personal sacrifices and the important lessons that were pivotal to her career trajectory. She identifies strong engagement in professional organizations within the engineering field as being instrumental to both expanding her network and sense of community.
As she looks back on her public sector career spanning three decades, Director Gomez shares these words of inspiration with the WTS Sacramento community: “It’s not what you are anymore, it’s what you want to accomplish. It’s not where you came from, but where you want to go. It’s not how much you have, but how much you want to offer."