Canadian Consulting Engineer

Confirmed: Engineers Are Making The World A Better Place

Early on June 12, nine engineers from across Canada, the jury for the 2009 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards, met at the Albany Club in downtown Toronto. After introductions and a brief explanati...

October 1, 2009   By Dr. M.G. (Ron) Britton, P. Eng.

Early on June 12, nine engineers from across Canada, the jury for the 2009 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards, met at the Albany Club in downtown Toronto. After introductions and a brief explanation of the task before us, we began consideration of the 60 entries. It was interesting how quickly the room became quiet.

As in years past the process was guided by a reasonably complete set of criteria. But even with those guidelines, it still boiled down to making value judgments. Each juror had previewed all the entries and after some hours that morning had identified about a third of them for further detailed assessments. The pace slowed as the jurors ranked each of these selected entries, but eventually by mid-afternoon the data had been assembled into a group opinion. Given the diverse backgrounds of the jury members, it was surprising how little variation existed in their rankings. Finally, with the numerical data as a base, the jury discussed the validity of the decisions that the numbers would suggest. Once consensus was reached, it was time to face Friday traffic to the airport, as the members of the jury headed home.

Viewed from the perspective of the process, this all seems rather routine. For the nine jurors however, it was a day of exploring the details of our profession’s input to the environment around us and of attempting to find ways to compare bridges with roads, and energy conservation with environmental protection. Studying the originality and creativity that was a part of every project instilled a feeling of pride in the work engineers do. Ranking one project over another was a judgment call that wasn’t easy to make.

On the flight home, I found myself wondering why these jurors would take the time to volunteer to sit on this sort of judgment panel. Selecting 12 “winners” from among the 60 submissions wasn’t easy, and our collective judgment will, no doubt, be questioned. However, serving on the panel provided an opportunity to get a close-up look at recent outstanding work done by members of our profession. It was apparent to me that each member of the jury takes great pride in the work of our “engineering family.” I believe we all went home with reinforced conviction that our colleagues in the consulting world are, in many different ways, making our world a better place,

Engineering awards focus attention on engineering contributions. It was a privilege to be able to contribute to that focus. And it was a privilege to share a day with eight engineers who were willing to make difficult judgments so that our best can be recognized.


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