Caleb Roberts, MSCRP '18

January 23, 2024
Meet Master of Community and Regional Planning alumnus Caleb Roberts
Caleb Roberts headshot

Why did you choose The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture?

I chose the UT Austin School of Architecture because I wanted to be at an institution in the middle of a region experiencing significant growth. I'm from Milwaukee, a Rust Belt city, so I was not exposed to projects intended for tremendous future population growth. Urban planning projects in Milwaukee were constrained by how the population may continue to decrease over the years; I wanted to get experience with planning in cities where growth was expected and integral to all projects.

Describe your current role and the work that you do. 

I am a senior planner with Gap Strategies, a consulting firm that does urban planning, public engagement, and private development work in small to mid-size cities across Central and North Texas. I am responsible for steering the planning processes and recommendations for our firm on urban planning projects and assisting in creating and facilitating public engagement methods for each project.

What’s something you’ve worked on recently? 

One of the recent projects of note I have worked on is a project to rethink two highway underpasses on the edge of Near Southside in Fort Worth. This project required us to engage with two totally different communities on how the underpasses could become an asset for them instead of the eyesores they are currently. One community was majority-minority that has been cut off from parts of Fort Worth because Interstate 35 was built through the neighborhood, causing negative socioeconomic outcomes that have long needed addressing. The other community was just South of Downtown but did not feel connected to Downtown because of the poorly lit, scary underpass that connected the two areas. The project entailed public engagement, urban design, planning, engineering and construction analysis, and a public art component. While the timeline was only five months, we were able to create two plans that will hopefully encourage more multimodal connectivity between the different communities.

How did UTSOA prepare you for your career?

I think the expertise of the professors and the alumni set UTSOA apart from other schools. The professors have extensive experience in all facets of the planning field and imparted perspectives that are beneficial across the board. Their work outside the classroom also contributed to me finding my first job out of school, which is critical to finding your footing as a planner. 

Planning alumni scattered across Texas and other areas is probably the singular greatest benefit of UTSOA. Being able to go for a job, project, or some other form of business connection and knowing there is a strong chance a UTSOA alum will be involved is invaluable. Those connections have always been positive, and the shared experience at UT gives me confidence that we will build a strong business relationship. The connections made at and through UT have made a world of difference in my professional career. 

What is an important lesson you learned here that has stayed with you? 

The greatest lesson I learned at UT is to love the details of the work. So many professors and classmates were so engaged with certain aspects/niches of planning that it was motivating to see them discuss their passions. This is where it was ingrained in me that the best outcome for a project comes when you fall in love with your work. So much of what we do in a work environment is scientific, but at UTSOA, I learned the artistic piece of planning that is engaging and passionate. I remind myself to find space to bring this into my work and to look for new ideas and avenues that move us forward.

What were some memorable classes or experiences from your time at the school?

My most memorable experience was traveling to New Orleans for the National APA Conference in 2018. At the time, I was president of the CRP student organization, and I drove several students down for the conference. I felt really happy and somewhat responsible for getting dozens of students from the planning program to attend the conference. Not only was it a significant bonding experience for my cohort, but it also led to so many job opportunities and connections. I think this experience exposed us to the complete depth of the planning field, and it is one of those experiences that I am so grateful I had while in Austin. 

Name: Caleb Roberts 
Degree + Year: MSCRP, 2018 
Position and Current Employer:  Senior Planner with Gap Strategies Inc. 
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI 
Current City: Dallas, TX