Reflections of a Mentor

Each of us have teachers in our past who have helped us develop our knowledge and skills. As we grow older, some of those mentors fade away and we continue the cycle by developing those younger than us. This fact is close at heart because one of my mentors has recently retired and will be missed by my department. 

Bobby Law worked for 52 years as a seal coat superintendent and has worked all over the State of Texas. I met Bobby when I was employed with TxDOT in Brownwood in 1985. One of my first assignments was to inspect the District Seal Coat program. We shot 1.5 million gallons of HFRS-2 emulsion in nine counties of west Texas. It was an excellent learning opportunity for a young engineer graduate. Traffic control, rock land calculations, application rates, weather factors, asphalt properties, sampling and testing asphalt, aggregate gradation, equipment practices, pavement evaluation, and record keeping were a few of the lessons learned in the 102 degree summer heat. I was an open mind and Bobby was there to share his experience.

My knowledge of other materials like hot mix and concrete grew rapidly as I became an Area Engineer in that District. We had our own lab and tested the materials for our projects. Bobby and other contractors constructed projects so they remained in contact. Those skills learned in my first five years gave me a foundation for my career advancement.

I lost touch with Bobby for a period of time as I moved to the consulting field and later into public works for a city. There were mentors at those locations, however, I was the one who became the teacher and leader of young employees sharing my skills with the employees. It is a rewarding feeling seeing those under your wing develop in knowledge.

Six years ago, I was hired as the County Engineer in Bell County. Belton was hometown for Bobby and me. We were reunited again at that point. Bobby was already working at the County as the pavement evaluator and safety officer for the Road and Bridge Department. We worked together for the last six years improving our safety and paving operations for the county. Bobby was one of the four awarded the "Making a Difference Award" for safety by the Texas Association of Counties in 2013. This week he retires and will move off to west Texas. I have given my thanks to him for being a mentor, contributing employee, and friend. I salute all those in our lives that have made us what we are today.

Submitted by Bryan Neaves, P.E (2-24-15)

P.O Box 2573
Cedar Park, TX 78630
Phone: 512-260-1376

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