Cesar Garcia An American Success Story at DLR Group 8/30/16 08/30/16 8:47:24 AM
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Cesar Garcia, DLR Group engineer, builds buildings to create better communities.
An American Success Story at DLR Group
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
You may have noticed the amazing work taking place at the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium Conservation Academy & Adventure Trails, Beveridge Middle School or the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals Omaha Campus.
You know the work, now it’s time to know one of the professional engineers behind those projects: Cesar Garcia of DLR Group.
His story began in Medellin, Colombia. It was not the friendliest place on the planet when he lived there, but more on that later. First, let’s check out his employer.
DLR Group was founded in Omaha in 1966 – so the firm is celebrating its 50th year. The firm staffs 750+ professionals in offices around the United States and abroad. It operates with a business structure and a culture of inter-office knowledge sharing and integrated design, Garcia said.
The firm’s Omaha office is located at 6457 Frances Street in Aksarben Village. DLR Group’s staff works side-by-side on a daily basis providing full-service capabilities to eight sectors: healthcare, sports, justice/civic, hospitality, retail, workplace, higher education, as well as K-12 education.
Garcia feels DLR Group has the entrepreneurial spirit in its DNA: “The culture is one of employee ownership.”
He said DLR Group separates itself from other architectural and engineering firms through integrated design that is backed by local responsive service and global knowledge sharing.
“At DLR Group, employee ownership gives us a shared vision and common purpose.” DLR Group has been a big part of the city, and the past year saw the firm celebrate its 50th year of offering integrated design services.
“The immediate local communities where we operate have been instrumental in the success of DLR Group since 1966,” Garcia said. “To recognize that support, we allocated our floating DLR Group Day as a day of service in each of our 24 locations. “This was locally driven with each office providing at least a day of volunteer service with an organization of their choice.”
In Omaha, that meant the staff helped Abide (a local nonprofit focused on the inner-city) turn two homes into “lighthouses” – homes that are renovated where the agency places families that become community advocates. It was a memorable experience, he recalled.
“The transformation and impact on the neighborhood was immediate,” Garcia said. “Over the three days, we had direct feedback from neighbors and passersby expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the positive impact that we made on their neighborhood and community.”
That is a good fit for a man who says his goal is to be the best leader he can be for his family, his company, and the community.
“In my career, I have the opportunity to impact people’s lives positively with my design while making sure that my efforts are always focused on the general welfare of the community,” Garcia emphasized. “Our main goal at DLR Group is to ‘elevate the human experience through design.’ This is what inspires me and gives me the energy to carry through some of the long hours and efforts it takes to elevate change and growth.”
Within the larger Omaha community, his goal is to actively continue to advocate for unity.
“I believe that cultural and intellectual diversity is one of the strongest attributes of any given group,” he said. “With so many issues that create division in our community, it is important to focus on the things that bring us together and make us closer.
“We are stronger when we work together.”
Garcia has served in a range of roles on his various projects.
• Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – Conservation Academy and Adventure Trails where he served as structural engineer. It is the newest project in the zoo, and includes an educational building and interactive adventure trail for children. “This is a very meaningful project for me personally since, when it opens, this will be the first project where my children will be able to enjoy and interact with the final product of a design where I was a big contributor,” Garcia said.
• Beveridge Magnet Middle School Addition and Renovation, where he has been project manager. It is the largest project of the OPS bond issues in 2014. “The scope includes extensive renovation on the existing facilities and a new classroom wing to house sixth graders, art and global studies,” Garcia explained.
• Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital – Omaha Campus. The hospital specializes in rehabilitation for those recovering from brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, severe stroke, and neurological disorders. It has a 110-bed capacity and 260,000 square feet.
It has been an amazing journey from Medellin to Omaha. Garcia has lived in Nebraska since 1997 when he came to the state to attend college.
“At that time, Colombia was going through one of the most difficult political times in its history, and my parents decided to send me to study abroad,” he recalled. “I am happy to call Omaha my home now.”
Garcia earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, graduating with distinction, and then earned a master’s degree in civil engineering with a structural emphasis. He also worked for two years as a research assistant at the UNO structural lab under the direction of Dr. Maher Tadros while attending graduate school.
He has a professional engineer license in the states of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. As an undergraduate, he was vice president of the Mechanical Engineering Honor Society Phi Tau Sigma.
Garcia and his wife, Jeanie, have three children.
His leadership has been in evidence at DLR Group and in the community. He was involved with the implementation of DLR Group’s Young Professionals group, as well as with the Practice and Talent Management forums.
Garcia is a board member of the Intercultural Senior Center – a nonprofit organization with the goal of providing services and programs to all seniors whose primary language is not English and who originate from diverse countries and cultures.
Further, he has been a volunteer at Avenue Scholars, where in the last three years he has helped with job shadowing for several high school students who had an interest in engineering and science. “I have also helped the organization with mockup interviews to help prepare students to enter the workforce.”
Garcia assisted in the launching of the Dorothy Patach Park/South Omaha Community Garden in 2014, and in the past has volunteer for the Partnership for Kids.
Recently he was a member of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Omaha class, which he termed a “life-changing experience.” He said, “I learned to appreciate the City of Omaha in a different way while experiencing firsthand the diverse threads that make up our social fabric.
“Collaborating with the hard-working leaders of our community and learning from their experiences definitely motivated me and helped me gain a better understanding of the needs of our city.”
For more information about the DLR Group, please go to the firm’s website at: www.dlrgroup.com. Learn more about Abide at: www.abideomaha.org. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s website is: www.omahachamber.org.