Ulteig Employee Spotlight: Eric Amaya
March 4, 2022
California’s Most Precious Resource is Safe in the Hands of Ulteig Senior Engineer Eric Amaya
Sacramento, CA — When the task at hand is maintaining a 444-mile-long water system that supplies water for 25 million Californians from Northern Central California to Southern California, it is crucial to have top-tier experts on the project.
It’s a good thing the expert on the job is Eric Amaya, Senior Engineer at Ulteig.
“There is no more important resource in California right now than water,” said Amaya. “It’s challenging, good work and it feels great to ensure that these water deliveries remain reliable.”
The current project Amaya is working on involves retrofitting parts of the Orange County Water District’s older water system, a segment of the California Aqueduct. The water running through this system is of tremendous value, as it is responsible for 70% of the water available for residents in the Orange County area, according to Amaya. This vast project occurs under the Department of Water Resources in California, the leading consumer of electricity and third highest producer of electricity for the state.
Providing water that powers critical agricultural and technological manufacturing efforts across all of California, the aqueduct serves as a powerful force behind the economic and technological growth of the state.
The monumental endeavor to maintain a secure pathway for the state’s most precious resource is driven by motivated individuals with the capacity to anticipate the most reliable and effective way to upgrade the water system — particularly in a state frequented by recurring droughts.
“What really stands out to me about Ulteig is our slogan ‘We Listen, We Solve.’ That’s a huge component in completing these retrofits,” said Amaya. “Each design is unique and has a different operation team, so it’s not just a matter of replacing old equipment.”
“We truly have to listen to what the client is looking for and make sure that what we are recommending is appropriate for the existing design,” added Amaya. “Only after listening and evaluating intently can we move forward to solve these high-stake issues.”
Amaya has been an engineer at Ulteig for almost two years. Prior to starting his position at Ulteig, the engineer acquired a degree from California State University- Sacramento, then moved on to accumulate almost 10 years of experience in the field working for Relay Application Innovation, Inc., and Pacific Power Engineers, Inc.
Learning from the Team
Amaya is on each project from inception to completion, from initially scoping out the work and coming up with the best programming for the job, to monitoring construction, to completion and conducting final testing of the system.
“The job incorporates many different disciplines that I’ve been very fortunate to watch and assist with. I learn so much from field personnel, their experiences and the stories they tell,” Amaya said.
Amaya attests to the power of collaboration across Ulteig teams based on his recent interactions with his colleagues Joe Butterfield, P.E., a Technical Manager who works from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Jacob Lien, P.E., a Technical Manager who works from Fargo, North Dakota. Together, the engineers encountered a complicated start sequence for a powerplant called Mojave Siphon. According to Amaya, in most power or pumping plants, water either runs straight up or down. In this siphon project, the water first follows a downward path, then shoots back up, making it trickier to sequence.
“This sequence was new to me, and it was a little funky. It was really a cool project to be a part of,” said Amaya. “I learned so much from watching our team figure out what the sequence should be and then come up with a good solution. By the time I went out to test it, I had a complete understanding of the way this new system works.”
A Mind for the Future
Having previously been an engineer at smaller companies, Amaya appreciates the benefits that come with working for a larger organization such as Ulteig. He cites the firm’s robust Information Technology (IT) and facility support and more access to helpful technology as important benefits to his new role.
“One of my colleagues was able to use our new mixed-reality Remote Assist technology to simulate a substation tour of a power plant,” said Amaya. “It is a whole new experience for people who are new to the industry, and it is never what you think it is going to be like. It was so helpful for people to be able to virtually walk through a substation before actually going out there.”
In order to stay on the cutting edge of water supply reliability, Amaya noted that Ulteig works hard to stay ahead on industry improvements.
“Right now we are more forward-focused than ever,” said Amaya. “In my previous company, we generally planned projects out six months. At Ulteig, we plan many years in advance. This is really important to keep everyone motivated and understand that there’s more in the future for us.”
In terms of company size, working at Ulteig has been the best of both worlds, noted Amaya. While he reaps the benefits of working at a larger company, he still retains the tight-knit team camaraderie signature of a smaller organization.
“It still feels like a small community. COVID has made things different in that we don’t really get to see each other often in the office, but when we go out to the field, there’s a lot of camaraderie being built there,” said Amaya. “It feels nice to communicate online because it’s a constant reminder that it’s not just us out here. If we needed additional resources or help or something else like that, it’s always available. It’s just a matter of asking.”
Traditions, Tents, and Tiny Shoes
Born and raised in Sacramento, Amaya often takes advantage of the beautiful landscape by camping and heading to the coast to hang out at the beach.
“My wife Erica and I love to travel. Pre-COVID and pre-kids, we would do quite a bit of camping in Auburn, Folsom, and Fort Bragg. I’m hoping to do that again soon with kids,” said Amaya. “We also love having barbeques and going out to the beaches.”
Amaya is thrilled that he and his wife get to share these traditions with their oldest daughter, Malina, and youngest daughter, Delphina, who was just born at the beginning of February, 2022 and has already proven to be absolutely amazing.
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