Nathan Bray was born in Colorado and moved to California around the age of 9. He grew up in the out skirts of Susanville, California and attended Lassen High School. He attended College of the Redwoods in Eureka before transferring to CSU, Chico. Bray graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 2006. He met his wife-to-be at CSU, Chico and upon graduation moved to Modesto to be closer to her family.
Bray started his career with the City of Turlock directly after graduation in August 2006 and he has held positions from Assistant Engineer, Associate Engineer, Associate Civil Engineer, Sr. Civil Engineer, Principal Civil Engineer and now Interim Director of Development Services / City Engineer. He had a brief four-month leave from the City in 2017 in which he worked for Turlock Irrigation District but he has otherwise devoted his career to the City of Turlock.
- How did you first get interested in civil engineering?
- I first gained interest in civil engineering in high school when I learned that civil engineers design and build bridges and dams. I had a teacher, Mr. Mitchell, that encouraged me in both math and physics which further cemented civil engineering was a good fit for me.
- What are the biggest challenges in civil engineering in California today?
- There are many challenges in civil engineering today, but I see financing as one of the larger hurdles. My background is with the public sector so financing projects has been limited based on public opinion of taxes, fees and the willingness to levy and collect funds to construct infrastructure projects. The American Society of Civil Engineers released their infrastructure report card which is a report to grade the nation’s infrastructure. The report graded the nation’s infrastructure as a D+. This grade has continued to downgrade while the cost for improving continue to increase.
- Are there any City of Turlock projects that you are most proud of being a part of? If so, which ones and why?
- Working for the City of Turlock has been a rewarding career as the projects I have worked on have a direct impact to the betterment of the built environment. I get to use my skill set for improving the community from working on new parks, improving road conditions and providing safer intersections, improving the City supply of water and fire demand capacity to securing federal and state funded grants to better leverage the City locally controlled funds. Two projects that stand out are the road rehabilitation on Canal Drive where the City was able to secure federal funds (stimulus or ARRA funds) to rehabilitate the corridor of Canal Drive from Daubenberger to Geer. The second project is the involvement in the Brandon Koch Memorial Skatepark. When I drive by and see the park so heavily used I am reminded that what I leads to improving our community.
- What advice would you give young people thinking about going into engineering?
- Do it! The engineering field is so broad and the country is in need of engineers. The engineering field can take you to any continent for work and would let you explore many cultures. Math and science are vital courses and have probably been stressed, but increasingly important are technical writing, communication and interpersonal skills. I don’t believe there is any one skill set that someone must possess to go into the engineering field; if you apply yourself you can be successful.
Q. What is your favorite thing to do for fun in Turlock?
A. Apart from spending time with my wife and daughter and our family friends, one of my favorite things to do in Turlock is go to open houses. I love to go look how other people have arranged and decorated their houses and yards.
Q. What is the last book, movie or TV show that captivated you and why?
A. The last book I read was “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal. I’ve read it a couple of times now and every time I read it I get motivated to push my limits in different aspects of my life, from running to improving my personal health and striving to have a good work to life balance.
Q. What's something that most people would be surprised to learn about you?
A. I’ve been swimming in the Great Salt Lake! My grandparents lived in Utah as I was growing up and I often spent many summers there visiting. On one of the trips we visited the Great Salt Lake and went swimming. The lake bottom was slopped flat that we had to walk out what seemed like half mile until it was deep enough to swim. There was so much salt in the water that I was able to float not just on my back but vertically as well.