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Rajiv Ali was born in Sadiya, India. Rajiv was raised near the New Delhi Air Force station and later the Nal-Bikaner Air Force Station, where his father was a Warrant Officer in the Indian Air Force. India’s first nuclear test at the Pokhran test range took place in 1974, about 60 miles away. As a boy, Rajiv enjoyed playing both cricket and field hockey.
What did you study? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
At an early age, he showed a high aptitude for math and science. When it came time to pick a college, Rajiv chose to attend engineering school at the National Institute of Technology in Kurukshetra.
After graduating in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, he pursued his master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India. It was there that he met a professor from the United States. “He was from Missouri and we got along very well, I later decided to move there.” Ali jokes. In 1991, he arrived in the U.S. to attend the Missouri University of Science & Technology, where he ultimately got his Doctorate in geotechnical engineering.
What was your career path after PhD?
In 1994, Rajiv landed in Portland to start his new job with AMEC Earth & Environmental. “After spending 3 years in the Midwest, I thought Portland was much prettier and the people here seemed friendlier. I was also surprised that few of the houses in Portland had air conditioning,” stated Ali. Rajiv got exposure to some interesting projects locally, including the pilot Design-build project for Washington DOT – SR-500 at Thurston Way and working on a large sinkhole under the Portland Rose Garden after a 100-year old wood-lined drainage tunnel had collapsed.
Through the 2000s, Rajiv worked for two other prominent engineering firms. At GeoDesign, Inc. he helped engineer the new Sauvie Island Bridge and conducted an engineering study to access the vulnerability of the Bull Run conduit system for Portland Water Bureau. At PBS Engineering, he became a principal and worked on OBDP Bridge Replacement Bundles 401 and 508 which included ten bridges along I-5, OR-38 and OR-126. Two of the bridges were replaced using rapid replacement techniques, a first for Oregon DOT.
In 2009, Rajiv decided to go into business for himself and launched RhinoOne Geotechnical. Over the years, he has done work for ODOT, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and TriMet. RhinoOne currently has three employees in the office and two on-call geologists.
Rajiv joined OAME in 2010 and actively attends the networking events. “OAME has helped my business tremendously because of the networking. These meetings are where I’ve met a lot of the folks that ultimately became clients. It’s the best place to gain access to people important to your success and an easy way to follow up with them,” stated Ali.