For this ADOT engineer, the job goes beyond technical discipline

By Doug Nintzel / ADOT Communications

Tafwachi Katapa Depending on the job, ADOT’s team of engineers has different responsibilities and experiences. Delivering the state’s massive highway infrastructure system involves a variety of roles for engineers.

During National Engineers Week, we bring you the story of one ADOT engineer who knows her job is much more than math and measurements.

Project Manager Tafwachi Katapa certainly knows that a lot of work, including communication, goes into getting a highway improvement project ready for construction.

“We are responsible for managing the design of projects typically from the scoping level through final design and advertisement for construction,” says Katapa, who has been working with ADOT’s Project Management Group for more than two years.

You may not be familiar with a term like scoping level or what it means to advertise a project for construction. Just know those are basically start and finish points when Katapa is managing one of her projects, including the upcoming Interstate 17 regional drainage system to be built within the next two years between Peoria Avenue and Greenway Road in Phoenix.

“My work always goes beyond engineering and I have to work with various communities and other stakeholders during the project development process. For the I-17 drainage system project we worked closely with the city of Phoenix and our regional partners at the Maricopa Association of Governments.”

The I-17 drainage system improvements are designed to mitigate flooding that can happen at cross street underpasses beneath the freeway. A gravity controlled pipeline system will replace the outmoded pump stations at freeway interchanges. Getting other agency partners actively engaged in the project is an engineer’s, and yes, a project manager’s challenge. That’s where communication pays off.

“It’s always good to have the involvement of stakeholders early in the design process,” Katapa says. “This way the team gets to know their expectations, applicable requirements, as well as other development plans in the area that may impact the project or vice versa.”

Yes, the job involves much more than engineering. But Katapa also says being a professional engineer benefits her as a project manager.

“While I am not conducting or leading a technical discipline as I have done previously in my career, my engineering background allows me to ask the technical teams and design consultants pertinent questions and to understand the basis of the work being done.”

And getting the work done has its rewards.

“It is rewarding to know that I helped improve roadway conditions and safety as well as the general commute of the traveling public,” Katapa says. “The gratitude expressed by the various stakeholders makes it all worthwhile.”  


EDITOR'S NOTE: During National Engineers Week, which calls attention to the importance of engineering and career opportunities in engineering, blog posts are featuring different aspects of engineering at ADOT.