Canadian Consulting Engineer

By Bronwen Parsons   

A Way of Attracting Young Employees

Engineering

In many ways, the life of this magazine revolves around the annual Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards. As co-sponsors with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, we are heavily involve...

In many ways, the life of this magazine revolves around the annual Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards. As co-sponsors with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, we are heavily involved in organizing different aspects of the program. In that role I get to immerse myself in the world of consulting engineers.

Which is why I believe there is no better enticement for taking up a career in consulting engineering than the award-winning projects featured in this annual issue. Rjean Breton, the new chair of ACEC, says his goal is to attract more young students into consulting engineering

Any engineer with a desire to see the world or lead more than a routine existence only needs to glance through these pages to find opportunities. They will see consulting engineers working in some of the most unusual and beautiful places on earth, and doing work that truly changes people’s lives.

Two of the award-winning projects, for example, are for First Nations and take place in the remote reaches of Canada’s vast north. One is by CIMA+, who designed the wharf and docking facilities for a small village called Puvirnituk in Nunavik. The new marine structures will open up the community to more marine traffic and make things a lot safer for local fishermen. Another project by a team of young male and female engineers from Golder in Montreal was done to benefit the Cree Nation of Mistissini. The Cree live near a former meteorological station on land was badly polluted until the Golder team found an economical way to treat the soils. Now the Cree can use the land to capitalize on the hunting and outdoor sports industry.

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The Nitchequon site is accessible only by helicopter or hydroplane, adding to the engineering adventure. Another project, this one by AMEC, was just as remote. On page 59 is a stunning photograph of two men on the summit of Turtle Mountain in Alberta, working a laptop while 2,200 metres above sea level. The engineering team was monitoring cracks and fissures in the rockface, helping to prevent a disastrous rockfall. That kind of work surely beats spending seven hours a day in an office cubicle.

The attractions of consulting engineering as a career choice were not lost on the chair of this year’s jury, Professor Marc Rosen. “It is heartening” Rosen writes on page 19, “to see just what an engineering education can lead to and what graduates can accomplish when they enter consulting engineering.”

Finally, the project that won the Schreyer Award is the type of consulting work that would appeal to young people who are super-serious about the environment. In the mid-1990s a book called The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken was a seminal tract in the environmental movement. Hawken talked about a day when all industries would be carefully linked in closed loop systems, where wastes from one production centre are the feedstocks of another. In Associated Engineering’s Industrial Water Re-use project on page 24, we see this pattern beginning. Petro-Canada is using the treated effluent of Edmonton’s wastewater plant for its production purposes instead of drawing on our precious fresh water resources.

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