At its annual awards in January, Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) honoured three individuals with the 2013 CEA Lieutenant Governor Awards for Distinguished Achievement. One was Charlie Weir, who passed away in March 2012. He was the second chief executive officer and a former senior partner of the firm Stewart Weir.
John Chomiak, chief executive officer and president of Hemisphere Engineering, and Gino Ferri, a principal at Read Jones Christoffersen were also recipients.
CEA says the awards recognize decades of hard work by these three individuals who are “dedicated to the consulting engineering industry, various charities and organizations, as well as communities near and far.”
According to the Consulting Engineers of Alberta website, Charlie Weir graduated from the University of Alberta in 1950 and joined what was essentially a survey company before he came on board. Weir introduced innovations such as a company plane for LiDAR mapping, and he helped influence the province to establish restricted development areas around Edmonton and Calgary as a transportation and utility corridor.
John Chomiak has been with Hemisphere Engineering for 50 years since 1962. After growing up on a farm, he finished a two-year engineering program at Mount Royal University in Calgary but says he couldn’t continue studies at the University of Alberta because prospective students needed French to enter at that time (roughly 1960) and he didn’t have a knack for the language. Instead, he took SAIT’s mechanical technology two-year program and after graduating, pursued a career in mechanical engineering. Under Chomiak’s direction, Hemisphere has become a specialist in high-containment design.
Gino Ferri started with Read Jones Christoffersen in 1965 after taking engineering at McGill University for two years. He left before getting his degree and instead worked professionally as a planner and junior draftsman in Montreal until finding his place in Alberta with RJC. He says he is well-past the standard age of retirement, but “I’m not tired, so why should I quit?” He adds, “Buildings are fun. I used to take my kids on Saturday to come and see what I did for a living.”
Ferri was the first recipient of the Gino Ferri Community Builder Award from the Autism Society of Edmonton Area – an organization near to his heart as his grandson has autism. The award fuelled the fire for Ferri to volunteer even more. “If you take from the community, you have to give back to the community,” Ferri says. “I recommend that people should volunteer and do it in things that they feel strongly about.”
The 2013 Harold L. Morrison Rising Young Professional (“YP” Award went to Robin Zirnhelt, P.Eng. Robin is a graduate of the University of B.C. in 2005. He then joined Cascade Engineering Group which was acquired by ISL Engineering. Since 2012 he has led the company in heavy timber engineering.