Juan Ramón Ortiz-Ortiz was born on Feb. 4, 1981, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was the youngest of the three sons of Juan Ramón and Brunilda Ortiz. He also has two sisters, Rosa Nilda and Rosa Angélica.
During his childhood, Juan was known for his energy and happiness. He loved to play, loved being with his family, and improvised special plays each year for his parents’ birthdays.
Juan started his education at the Colegio Corazón de María in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Two years later, he changed schools and enrolled in the Colegio Nuestra Señora de Belén, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, from which he graduated 10 years later. He joined school basketball and baseball teams and also participated in track and field. He became a big fan of Michael Jordan. A member of the National Honor Society during his high school years, he participated in the Presidential Classroom of America in 1998. When he graduated from high school, he decided to pursue a career in civil engineering.
In 1999, Juan started his undergraduate studies in civil engineering at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. Two years later, he met his future wife, Liselle Vega, while they were taking classes together. His college years were characterized by his excellent academic performance and his love for the environment. He also belonged to the American Water Works Association, Water Environmental Federation, Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrimensores de Puerto Rico, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and American Society of Civil Engineers, for which he served as chapter president for two years. During his presidency, Juan planned field trips and student activities to help increase the involvement of students in civil engineering. The student chapter increased its membership significantly and took part, for the first time, in the college newspaper generated by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He was also part of the University Honor Board and a member of the Middle States Association for Colleges and Schools Curriculum Committee for the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. During his last year in college, he worked as a physics and engineering tutor, helping students with their course work and encouraging them to give their best.
Outside school, Juan was part of a family music group, playing the timbales. He loved music, particularly salsa. His family remembers him for his perseverance; dedication; patience; responsibility; and, most importantly, his smile.
His love for God also filled his life. He was involved in several Catholic activities throughout all his school years. While in college, he and his wife joined a choir in which he played the timbales.
His desire to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech began long ago. In 2003, he and his wife came to Tech to meet the faculty and to get to know the water resources and geotechnical programs. Juan received his bachelor of science in civil engineering in 2005 and returned to Virginia Tech in February of 2006 to attend the water resources and environmental engineering open house. Juan and his wife, Liselle, started the master’s program together in August 2006 and were scheduled to complete their degrees in December 2007. During his time at Virginia Tech, Juan enjoyed being a research and teaching assistant and sharing his love for sports with his friends. Professor G.V. Loganathan was his mentor.
Juan’s life was characterized by his love for his family and his desire to become a better person each day. He lived his life with great intensity, as if each day was his very last. He changed the life of everyone he met and filled it with love and happiness. He will be remembered forever for his passion for civil engineering, family, and life.
© 2009 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University