As a park ranger for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Ralph Rodriguez-Caraballo worked to protect the water of Rainbow River, northwest of Orlando. After his wife got a job at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria in 2012, Ralph wanted to continue in his career in water quality. He’s now close to completing Alexandria Renew Enterprises Apprenticeship Program to become a Maintenance Technician, ensuring that local wastewater is returned to the Chesapeake Bay watershed sparkling clean.
He was attracted to Alexandria Renew Enterprises after he visited the facility and noted that many employees had worked there for years. “This is a good place for a steady job and a long-term career,” he said.
He was also attracted to Alexandria Renew Enterprises’ innovative approach to cleaning water; most notably its use of anammox, also known as Moxie®, which uses less energy and chemicals than conventional wastewater treatment approaches.
As part of the maintenance technician apprenticeship program, which he expects to complete at the end of this summer, Ralph is developing his expertise in the design and analysis of advanced wastewater mechanical systems. The two-year program requires 4,000 hours of on-the-job training, as well as 300 hours of class time. Ralph recently passed his Certified Maintenance Reliability Technical exam.
Meanwhile, Ralph is a certified technician for Harley Davidson motorcycles, showing a natural talent in mechanics.
“Fifty years ago, the water in the Potomac River was filthy. Today, it’s much better. By 2040, Alexandria Renew Enterprises hopes to help make the water in the Potomac so clean that people can swim in it and eat the fish they catch. I know we’re doing good work,” he said.
Ralph is a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, with a degree in animal science. He is originally from Rio Piedros, Puerto Rico, where he received his high school diploma from Colegio San Jose. Ralph and his wife live in Springfield, Virginia. Their son is a student at West Springfield High School.