UTEP’s alumni leave a mark on El Paso


Jasmin Campoya

UTEP’s Centennial Museum opened its new exhibit, “Building the Borderlands.”

Angelica Gutierrez, Contributor

On Thursday Feb. 16, the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens hosted a panel discussion with Edward Drusina, Bradley Roe and Blanca Navarrete, all distinguished alumni from UTEP’s Civil Engineering Department, as part of “Building the Borderlands: The Legacy of UTEP Civil Engineers” exhibit currently on display at the museum. 

The Centennial Museum is the oldest in El Paso, established in 1936 as a celebration of the anniversary of Texas’ independence. The museum was built to blend in with the Bhutanese architecture of UTEP. Even though the museum’s exhibitions and collections mainly concentrate on the Chihuahuan Desert Region, the largest desert in North America, some of the temporary exhibits are related to the border life since a significant part of UTEP’s community belong to this kind of culture.   

The “Building the Borderlands: The Legacy of UTEP’s Civil Engineers” exhibit’s website states the exhibit, celebrates the achievements of the students, faculty, and alumni of the Department of Civil Engineering. It recognizes the lasting transformations made by its graduates and explores the continued legacy of UTEP’s civil engineers on the quality of life of our community and around the world.”  

El Paso International Airport (EPIA), constructed in 1928, connects the city with people around the world. Ever since 1971, UTEP alumni have left a great impression modernizing and expanding the EPIA through construction projects such as the renovation of the East Concourse, and construction of the front entrance.  

The exhibit highlights the El Paso International Airport and the legacy of UTEP’s Civil Engineering. (Jasmin Campoya)

“We were involved in structural elements having to do with the refinery as well as the welding of facilities and structures and the coding’s of all of those systems, those conduits, those pipes, that the type of industry requires but at the same time we did a lot of work at the airport, the terminal work that was done when the airport was expanded several years ago and in the last so many years,” said William Correa, structural engineer and UTEP alumni. “We ended up widening and opening up the terminal building so you could see the mountains and do away with the small windows that were along the concourse at the airport that was a struggle for anybody to see outside and today we’ve got you know, a much open and wider area at the terminal, at the airport.”  

UTEP alumni have not only made their mark in the EPIA, but in Downtown, Fort Bliss and the university’s campus. Civil engineers play a big and important role in our lives since they oversee the construction of places for all of us to live and cherish. 

“I was project manager for the international airport expansion,” said Ed Drusina, construction manager and UTEP alumni. We did the expansion to the Civic Center when the Democratic Convention was coming to El Paso, then went private sector and worked on the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Plant. I then jumped over the International Boundary and Water Commission. President Obama appointed me to that position, which was very rewarding. I worked on projects all over the region and in other parts of the international boundary. It took me away from El Paso quite a bit, but my heart is still right here.” 

The borderlands will always be home for everybody, no matter who they are. It is such an inspiring thing to see UTEP’s mark by alumni building a better space for El Paso’s community.  


Angelica Gutierrez is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]