ASPECT Structural Engineers Announces Five New Associates

ASPECT is proud to announce the promotion of five team members to the position of Associate. 

Since our firm was founded eight years ago, the definition of what it means to be an Associate at ASPECT has evolved. Today, the promotion of these five individuals signals increased momentum in the overall growth of the firm, and points to the proven commitment of our teams to deliver quality work for our clients in a way that is unique to ASPECT.

ASPECT was established with a mission to approach structural engineering in a new and different way. We appreciate and apply rigorous, traditional engineering practices, but through a new lens that prioritizes varied viewpoints and the exploration of newer approaches. Many members of the ASPECT team started their careers in other disciplines, pulling from their experience working with carpenters, contractors, suppliers, or architects to contribute to a wider understanding of the value that structural engineers can bring to a project. This team-based approach focuses on better design, improved constructability, and unwavering accountability.
Each of our new Associates personifies this approach, with project experience that is as varied as it is comprehensive. Several of these individuals joined ASPECT when the firm was just getting started (or shortly thereafter), and their growth has mirrored (and bolstered) the firm’s own growth.

Please join us in congratulating this group of professionals as the current and future leaders of ASPECT.


Ornagh Higgins, M.Eng., P.Eng., C.Eng., MIStructE, MIEI


Ornagh joined ASPECT at the beginning of 2020 – right after she had just moved to Canada, and right before a global pandemic. In spite of this turbulent time, Ornagh performed exceptionally from her first days with the firm, and it was immediately apparent what a tremendous asset she was to the team.

Ornagh is a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, where she earned her Bachelor’s and her Master’s degrees in Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering. She worked in London, UK for seven years after graduation, developing her skillset by contributing to commercial, residential, and refurbishment projects. While her prior experience largely focused on steel-framed leisure and retail projects, when she joined ASPECT Ornagh became involved in designing both mass timber and concrete structures, and directly contributed to some of ASPECT’s largest and most complex work. Developments such as Tallwood 1 at District 56 are a testament to Ornagh’s ability to push herself technically, particularly in the face of becoming familiar with Canadian codes and standards. She has also directly contributed to numerous projects in the United States, including the Highline X Moynihan Connector Bridge in New York (now complete), and the Via Emma residential development in Arkansas (currently underway).

Due to her growing expertise, grit, and grounded engineering approach, Ornagh is regularly called upon to speak at industry conferences. She presented in June of last year at the World Conference on Timber Engineering in Oslo, Norway, and will be presenting on tall timber design strategies at this year’s Mass Timber Conference in Portland, Oregon.



Keelan Hegarty, M.Eng., C.Eng., MIStructE


Keelan studied at University College Dublin in Ireland, where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Structural Engineering with Architecture. After graduation, Keelan moved to London in the UK, where he contributed to significant, architecture-forward developments. His experience included modular construction, heritage buildings, and everything in between.

Keelan joined ASPECT’s Vancouver team when he moved to British Columbia in 2018, immediately sharing his international knowledge and experience with the team, while simultaneously picking up on Canadian codes and standards. After three years of contributing to local Vancouver developments – including numerous multi-unit residential buildings – Keelan made the move back to the UK but continued to be a vital and contributing member of the ASPECT team. While working remotely, Keelan contributed to some of ASPECT’s largest and most exciting new projects to date, including the 1925 Victoria Park development in Toronto, Ontario (recent winner of the Holcim Award), and the UnderArmour Headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland (currently under construction).

Consistently, Keelan is the consummate multi-tool team leader, combining his former experience with his ASPECT-driven understanding of mass timber design practices, applying either approach to North American and European markets as needed.



Evan Peatt, B.A.Sc., P.Eng.


Evan graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science, and began his career with ASPECT Structural Engineers shortly after. At that time, the firm was just starting out, and looked very different. Evan immediately rolled up his sleeves to help wherever he could. His passion for exceptional design, and affinity for working with talented architectural teams, was clear, and he regularly demonstrated his ability to determine the best structural solutions to achieve the overall design intent. Due to this aptitude, Evan worked closely with Andrew Chad to build up the custom homes portfolio of the firm, and has played a critical role in developing ASPECT’s exceptional reputation in this BC market. The homes to which Evan contributes are regularly celebrated in industry publications and recognized with design awards, including projects like “Camera House ” in Pemberton, “Dooley Residence” in Whistler, and “Colwood House” in North Vancouver. Evan’s “get it done” approach regularly benefits the projects that he leads, as contractors continually reference the ability to call up Evan and get a quick answer to important questions that arise on site.

This passion for a job well done also extends beyond site and has regularly benefited ASPECT operations, including playing a pivotal role in finding, and managing the design and renovation of, ASPECT’s current Vancouver office location. Since our earliest days, Evan has played a big role in what our firm has become and, as Associate, will continue to shape what the firm will be.



Jackson Pelling, B.A.Sc., P.Eng.


A brilliant engineer with nearly ten years of experience, Jackson’s path to ASPECT was unconventional, but no less impressive. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Civil Engineering, Jackson began his career journey in the insurance industry. There, he spent several years gaining intimate familiarity with high-end custom homes and multi-unit residential buildings, as well as a rare perspective on the design and construction process. In 2016, Jackson attended a SEABC Mass Timber class that was taught by ASPECT Principal Bernhard Gafner, where Jackson’s intelligence and curiosity caught Bernhard’s attention. Shortly after, in December of 2016, Jackson joined ASPECT.

Since that time, Jackson has become a technical leader for ASPECT. Clients and colleagues alike trust Jackson because of his unsurpassed structural knowledge – if they have a question, Jackson very likely has the answer. Over the past eight years, Jackson has contributed to the design of developments across Canada, including custom homes, commercial and mixed-use developments, industrial facilities, and institutional buildings. His knowledge of seismic considerations is proven through his work on projects such as District 56 Tallwood 1 – a twelve-storey mass timber multi-unit residential tower that was the second tallest wood building in Canada at the time of construction. His knowledge extends across North America, with project experience that stretches from Toronto (such as the Quayside development), to Boston (the Harvard Treehouse Conference Center), to British Columbia (such as the Lauwelnew School Expansion in Brentwood Bay).

Jackson’s encyclopedic knowledge, combined with his seemingly infinite patience and passion for the industry, has raised the bar for quality engineering at ASPECT and beyond.



Jamie Connolly, P.Eng., M.Eng.


Jamie graduated from Concordia University in Montreal with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, before going on to complete his Master’s of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design, at the University of Northern British Columbia. Mirroring his education, Jamie’s experience, as well as his time with ASPECT, has taken him across the country.

Jamie joined ASPECT’s Vancouver office in 2018 (shortly after graduating from his Master’s program), and immediately charmed the entire team with his fun-loving, easy-going attitude. In addition to his approachable demeanor, Jamie was also technically gifted, with an inherently practical nature that clients immediately appreciated. Over his time with our firm, he has been a key contributor to some of our most ambitious and challenging projects, including the Malahat Skywalk and Viewing Tower in British Columbia, and the new UnderArmour Headquarters in Baltimore. On the Malahat Skywalk project, Jamie meticulously designed and detailed connections to maximize pre-fabrication and simplify installation – an effort that helped enable fast and easy on-site construction. Due to his growing expertise, Jamie has played a critical role as a member of both our local structural engineering teams and our global fabrication design team.

Over the past five years, Jamie relocated from Vancouver to Toronto, playing a significant role in building our local Toronto office. Beyond ASPECT, Jamie has also earned a reputation as a respected speaker, and has been called upon to present at industry conferences, such as the Cecobois Conference and the Wood Solutions Conference, as well as numerous industry webinars and design workshops.



To learn more about the Associate position at ASPECT, please reach out to Jamie, Keelan, Ornagh, Evan, and Jackson through their LinkedIn pages, or contact Samantha Armitage, Director of Marketing & Communications.