’94 MS Civil Engineering
Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering Alumnus of the Year
If you’ve driven on a freeway, overpass, interchange or major thoroughfare in Southern Nevada, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Jim Caviola’s work. A founding partner of CA Group, Caviola’s fingerprints can be found on dozens of infrastructure projects completed in and around Las Vegas in recent decades.
Among them: multiple stretches of the Interstate 215 Beltway, I-15, U.S. 95, and I-11; Las Vegas Boulevard, Main Street, Boulder City Parkway, and Flamingo, Spring Mountain, and Desert Inn roads (to name but a few). Caviola also has lent his civil engineering expertise to mass transit projects, including the Las Vegas Monorail, the Regional Transportation Commission’s Bus Rapid Transit Project, and even the futuristic (but never realized) California-Nevada Interstate Maglev Project.
As impressive as his list of projects during his 38-year engineering career is Caviola's list of skills. The senior project manager for CA Group’s Las Vegas office has experience in interchange, alignment, and drainage design; hydrology and hydraulics; maintenance of traffic plans; and conducting corridor location studies.
For proof of the ongoing impact Caviola has had on his industry, look no further than two prestigious awards he earned more than two decades apart: In 1995, he was named Engineer of the Year in Private Practice by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and in 2016 he was honored as Transportation Engineer of the Year by the Nevada chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
“Ever since I was high school, I wanted to be a civil engineer because I loved building things, loved the outdoors, and loved math and science,” said Caviola, who consistently supports UNLV through regular financial gifts. “When the results of my high school aptitude test indicated civil engineering was for me, I knew where my career was headed.”
What’s the one infrastructure enhancement that you would most like to see in Southern Nevada?
That’s tough, because we’ve made such great strides in improving our infrastructure to keep up with our rapid growth. But it would be great if people could move up and down the Strip or connect to the airport or downtown by traveling above or below all the congestion. I had hoped an expanded monorail would meet this goal, but it now appears the ability to make this happen lies in the hands of the Boring Company’s underground system.
Drawing from your experience, what three attributes should every civil engineer strive to have a boundless supply of?
Maintain a curiosity to seek new ways of doing things; remain committed to finishing the job; and never compromise your integrity — always do what you know is right.
If you could go back in time, what’s one piece of practical advice you would give to your 20-year-old self?
Bet on yourself by starting your own practice or firm as early as possible in your career. It took me 26 years before I stopped working for others and launched CA Group. I wish I would have done it sooner.