Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Employee Spotlight

Shafiqul Islam: Tireless Maintenance Design Supervisor and Father of (How Many?)
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 08/2010

Don’t ask Maintenance Design Supervisor Shafiqul Islam what his job involves unless you have a lot of time.

The senior transportation engineer, who jokingly uses the Star Trek slogan “We go where no one has gone before” to describe his group, has a list of his job functions that’s currently up to 17. To cite some of the highlights, he supervises the district emergency project coordinators, is the webmaster of Maintenance Design, and his group is responsible for the upkeep of all 61 District Maintenance Stations and sand sheds. He supervises the Maintenance Special Crews Region Engineer, charged with all striping, lighting and signs for the district.

Tired yet? There’s much, much more! To name just a few, he is the Quality Review Coordinator for Maintenance Design comments for every project in the district. He is Program Advisor for three SHOPP programs, supervises the design of Bridge Maintenance and Sign Restoration projects, supervises the water treatment system coordinator, handles service contracts for HM5 (facilities restoration) projects, is in charge of all IT purchases and deployment for Maintenance Design, runs the student assistance program for his office and trains new Maintenance Design employees.

“I like to diversify,” Islam said. “I don’t get tired—it’s when I don’t have enough to do that I get tired.”

But he is quick to credit his eight-person staff for enabling this level of productiveness. “It’s like having 18 hands,” he said. “I’m not afraid to take on new responsibilities because I know I can get help.”

Islam grew up in Bangladesh in what he calls “deep village” and he says that crocodiles now inhabit his old bedroom, which has been consumed by a nearby river. In fact, he joked, “If I were to attend a school reunion, many of the attendees would be crocodiles.”

Since 1989, Islam has resided in the U.S., where he obtained a master’s degree in civil
engineering from the University of Connecticut. He then worked for a private company in Arizona, working in the environmentally related fields of water treatment and hazardous waste.

Islam started working at Caltrans Design B in 1998, staying in that position for six years and then promoting to his current job. He was attracted by the job stability and also the relatively large Bangladeshi population in Los Angeles. “The living expenses are high, but I still think coming here was a good decision,” Islam said.

When he is not at work, Islam spends time with his family. Oh, did we mention that he has NINE children, ranging in age from 16 years to 10 months? “So I don’t have time to waste,” he said. When the family goes on long trips, they have to rent a 15-passenger van. Ordinary outings require two trips. Not that Islam is complaining. “I’m just super-blessed,” he said.

Looking to the future, he said he loves Maintenance Design but knows there are many other areas to explore. “Caltrans is like a university,” he said. “There is no limit to what you can learn here.”