2003- Rhonda Gail Faught ‘80 BSCE
Rhonda Gail Faught received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from NMSU in 1980.
Faught, a Deming, New Mexico native, went on to become the first female district engineer of the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department. Earlier this year she became the first female secretary of the New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department in its 100-year history.
“Today, we make history,” New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said when he appointed Faught to the position.
Governor Richardson also stressed that Faught was selected for the job because of her experience and leadership skills and not because she is a woman – a sentiment shared by several New Mexico legislators who have known and worked very closely with Faught for many years on transportation issues.
In an industry dominated by men, Faught steadily climbed the ranks since she joined the New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department in 1988. It is her friendly and pleasant demeanor, coupled with a penchant for finding innovative solutions to old problems that earned her the respect of her peers within New Mexico and from across the nation.
As a technical support engineer in the Albuquerque district office, she created a design group – first of its kind at the district level – to help decentralize some of the design and information technology aspects involving certain highway projects.
Faught’s innovative approach to assist local governments resulted in the creation of the Local Government Assistance Bureau – her brainchild that assisted cities and counties with identifying road projects, securing financing and assisting them through the bureaucratic maze for those projects.
Faught also spearheaded the reconstruction of US 70 in Las Cruces – an $80- million project in southern New Mexico . For the first time in the department’s history, the consultants for US 70 reconstruction project were required to live in Las Cruces – another innovative approach instituted by Faught so the consultants have a better feel for the community needs.
Faught’s vision for the department is very clear – she wants the New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department to continue to be a leader on transportation issues and put New Mexico on the global economic map. Her vision for the department, not only includes maintaining and improving the highways, but also exploring multimodal transportation, such as light rail, aviation regional transit authorities and rail systems throughout the state. With this multimodal transportation commitment, Ms. Faught intends to make New Mexico very competitive in the global economy.