Employee spotlight: Region 1 Engineer Jose Rios


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Employee spotlight: Region 1 Engineer Jose Rios

Jose Rios Headshot

Jose Rios rose through the ranks at IDOT to become Region 1 engineer in January. In his new role leading IDOT in Cook and the collar counties, Jose will help to deliver the largest highway improvement program ever implemented in Illinois and build a safe, efficient transportation network.

Born in New Jersey to Puerto Rican parents, Jose spent his latter teenage years and early adult years in Puerto Rico. He served six years in the Air National Guard after completing high school and later earned an associate degree in electronics and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.

Jose joined IDOT 21 years ago in the Region 1 office and has remained there throughout his career. Prior to becoming Region 1 engineer, he has served as in-house preparation engineer at the Bureau of Design, engineer of program development, acting land acquisition engineer, bureau chief of land acquisition, and engineer of operations.

His appointment made him the first Latino regional engineer at IDOT. Here are some of Jose’s thoughts about his job and life outside of IDOT.

Q. What does your job as regional engineer entail?

A. One thing is trying to tell the public why we are doing something that is for the good of the state and transportation. Also, making sure that the coordinated efforts reach their goals, that every project is completed and that every single dollar allotted to us is used at full capacity while taking care of the people, the environment and the communities impacted.

Q. What is your favorite part of the job?

A. I am a people person. I like to work with people and brainstorm to find solutions. It is impressive what we can achieve together. It feels great to see the product and when you drive a road be able to say, “Wow! We built that, we helped make that possible.” At the end when you see the benefits of the product – that makes a difference.

Q. Can you tell us a little about life outside the office?

A. My son and daughter were scouts, so I have always been involved in scouting. Camping, being outside and appreciating the beauty of nature is something I have enjoyed with my wife and family.

Q. Do you have a motto or words to live by?

A. Always go above and beyond and put in the extra time to do something. I have always thought that you lead by example.

Q. Anything else you would like to share?

A. I’ve had incredible opportunities. Many people, not just one, gave me an opportunity. I’ve always tried to do my best and not let them down. We are human, we all make mistakes, but I try my best to honor the people who have put their faith in me, and I hope not to disappoint. I thank Secretary Osman and our other regional engineers for the incredible opportunities. I am grateful for that.

Q. Any advice to students interested in the field of engineering?

A. Practice your math! Get the experience to understand concepts – why things happen – and be curious.