"So, Aspect - how did you spend your Summer?"

Well, Summer is over (insert sad face), the breeze is cooler and fall has begun. We’ve been asked many times, “So Aspect, how did you spend your Summer?”…so we thought we’d share some highlights!

Back in early June, Bernhard attended the AIA Conference on Architecture in San Francisco and co-presented “How Mass Timber Buildings Improve our Climate and our Communities” with our friends from SFI, Jamestown, and Leers Weinzapful. Along with interesting sessions, thought-provoking discussions, and the latest on new products and fabricators, it was great to meet with clients and make new connections!

Bernhard presenting at the AIA Conference on Architecture

At the end of June, Ornagh and Brendan (with Mehrdad in tow) took off for Oslo, Norway and the World Conference on Timber Engineering (WCTE), one of the most exciting events on the mass timber calendar. They presented papers on our Tallwood 1 and Terminus projects, and returned inspired and full of knowledge as well. Some of the stand-out presentations included:

  • Keynote Speaker, Age Holmestad, a Norwegian mass timber expert involved in many famous and groundbreaking timber structures, who provided insights from his work over the past 40 years.
  • Another Keynote Speaker, Jennifer Cover, President and CEO of Woodworks US, highlighted the importance of using timber as a means of sustainable construction to meet the growing demand for housing as the population grows
  • A number of Fire Design concepts, presented by: David Barber of Arup (a study exploring the fire resistance of exterior CLT building walls in various fire cases); Lakehead University (various CLT  concrete composite floor slab fire tests) and Hans Eric Blomgren (fire design of glulam connections with timber-to-timber bearing interfaces).
  • Designing for Robustness in Mass Timber, with presentations by Pedro Palma (on revisions underway for Eurocode 5), and Johannes A.J. Huber (on Application of Tube Connector for Catenary Action in CLT Floors).
  • Code discussions on the state of both Canadian and American code provisions for tall mass timber with presentations by the Canadian Wood Council an American Wood Council.
Mehrdad, Ornagh and Brendan with Deirdre Kent, the Canadian Ambassador to Norway

 

Ornagh presenting on Tallwood 1

 

Brendan presenting on Terminus

Outside of the conference, the team had fun exploring the city, the architecture, and especially partaking in the saunas at the harbour!

Oslo Opera House

 

Astrup Fearnley Museet

 

Saunas on the Harbour

In July, there was more fun (and adrenaline) had in Europe, when Bernhard, Beatrice, Ornagh, and Thomas completed the Eiger Ultra Trail together in Switzerland, a race through some of the most famous mountains and picturesque landscapes in the region.

Bernhard, Ornagh, Beatrice and Thomas at the end of the Eiger Ultra Trail – well done, team!

A few days later, the Fabrication Design team set out on a super educational tour of mass timber suppliers and fabricators in Austria and Switzerland, including:

1. The Hasslacher headquarters, glulam plant, and specialty glulam production facilities in Hermagor, and Sachsenburg. It was truly awesome to see in person the incredible amount of automation incorporated, along with the saw block gluing press, assembly, and finishing end before seeing glulam packages prepped and packed into containers for their journeys around the world.

2. Binderholz headquarters and production facilities in Hallein and Jenbach, where the team got to see glulam and assembly for one of our very own US office projects!

3. A stop at CREE Buildings headquarters, LCT One, in Dornbirn where our friends Tim and Julia from CREE graciously provided a tour of the building, and an overview of the CREE system.

4. The specialty glulam freeform production facility of Blumer Lehmann in Gossau, Switzerland, as well as the sawmill and lumber production nearby.

Obligatory group shot in the mountains!

Back over in Canada, we continued to work hard on many projects - and definitely provided valuable work experience to our co-op/intern students, ensuring they stayed focused!

Yes, there’s an intern in there!

It was summer after all, so there were many excursions for ice cream too...

In early September, Meike returned to the BC Wood Global Buyers Mission (GBM) in Whistler and presented on Design for Constructability with Mike Marshall from Kinsol. Always great to connect with those interested in specifying and buying wood products!

We were also super proud to host our first sponsor event with WCE (Women in Consulting Engineering) in Vancouver which was a negotiation workshop with The Thoughtful Co. As passionate advocates of women in engineering this event was very close to our hearts, and provided a ton of valuable information and tips that can be used by anyone in negotiations.

Julia and Gina at the WCE Negotiation workshop
Sophie & Jillian from The Thoughtful Co.

On top of all that, we enjoyed many Lunch & Learns from valued suppliers, had lots of new faces join our teams, and we started a variety of new and exciting projects. Thanks to all who added to our fantastic summer!

So, tell us - what did you do this summer? 


Promotion Alert! – David Rajendran

We are delighted to share that David Rajendran [P.Eng., CEng (UK), MIStructE] has been promoted to Associate in our Vancouver office!

An integral member of Aspect since 2018, David has made a significant impact to the growth of our firm, and of our team. David’s diverse background encompasses a wide range of institutional, commercial and residential projects, in both North America and Europe. He is skilled in designing with all major building materials and has particular expertise in renovation and preservation projects. Having spent over 9 years working in London, David also brings a wealth of international experience and a unique perspective to our team.

He is methodical and meticulous, and is known for his calm, cool demeanor. He's been described as “The James Bond of the engineering world” and “A straight-up good human”. As a leader, he is dedicated to knowledge sharing and mentoring our next generation of engineers and project managers, and will no doubt continue to be a role model in leadership.

Prior to joining Aspect, David was actively involved in the field of temporary works and demolition, where he tackled specialized contractor-specific design challenges. Additionally, he has made a significant impact through philanthropic work with his church, contributing to the construction of numerous churches across Africa.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, David’s passion for craftsmanship extends to his life outside the office. He is an avid DIY enthusiast and can often be found tinkering with various projects, with a particular fondness for carpentry. David’s expertise and dedication make him a huge asset to our team, and we love witnessing the positive impact he has on our projects and our firm.

RECENT PROJECTS

2023
550 East Broadway
550 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC

 

This mixed-use development comprises 3 storeys of residential above 2 commercial units at ground. The upper storeys are framed using point-supported CLT, with the lateral forces resisted by CLT shear walls. The level 2 transfer slab and structure below is constructed using reinforced concrete. Learn more

 

Architect: Gair Williamson / MGA
Kin Collection Townhomes
Kin Collection Townhomes
Burnaby, BC

 

A mixture of stacked townhomes and 3-storey ground-oriented townhomes of light wood frame construction, this project will provide 124 units totalling approximately 163,700 sq. ft., with a single-level underground parkade. The development includes indoor and outdoor amenities including landscaped courtyards, gardens, and a playground connected to green public spaces. Learn more 

 

Architect: Integra Architecture
Capilano University Student Residence
Capilano University Student Residence
North Vancouver, BC

 

This new Student Housing Facility will provide 362 beds of student accommodation and related facilities. The project is comprised of a 6-storey student residence of 87,000 sq.ft. (light wood frame on concrete transfer slab), and a 1-storey dining hall of 7,000 sq.ft. (mass timber on shallow concrete foundation). Learn more…

 

Architect: IBI Group/HDR
VAHA McHardy
VAHA McHardy
Vancouver, BC

 

This development includes approximately 100 units of affordable housing, arranged over 6 storeys above grade with a single below-grade parkade. The design incorporates light wood framing in conjunction with nailed shear walls, and also uses pre-panelized construction to shorten the construction period.

The project is targeting Passive House certification. Learn more

 

Architect: ZGF
Okanagan College Student Residence – Vernon Campus
Okanagan College Student Residence – Vernon Campus
Vernon, BC

 

This 4-storey Student Housing Facility will provide 101 beds of student accommodation, a child care facility and other related programming. The structure is comprised of light wood frame construction with some feature elements incorporating mass timber. The project will meet the requirements of BC Energy Step Code Level 4. Learn more

 

Architect: Faction Projects

 

Please join us in congratulating David on this much-deserved promotion!

Learn more about our stellar team here.

 


Meet the Associates – Thomas Brotschi

We are thrilled to announce that Thomas Brotschi (B.Sc.BFH) has been promoted to Associate in our Bern office! As a specialist timber engineer, Thomas has a unique skill set, along with valuable knowledge of the supply chain, and the timber industry as a whole. He began his career as an on-site licensed carpenter, then went on to study timber engineering at Bern University of Applied Science, graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Wood Engineering. He spent his internship in Canada, and during this time gained experience in steel and concrete design, rounding off his skill set.

His portfolio of delivered mass timber structures ranges from high-end single-family homes, to sports and multi-purpose halls, to large-scale educational and multi-storey residential buildings. As part of his leadership role, he is spearheading our shop drawing and specialty timber engineering services.

Thomas has worked on several high-profile and award-winning projects including the Shaare Zedek Cancer Center in Jerusalem, Israel; B&B Guimarães in Guimarães, Portugal; Brunel Center in Bristol, UK; Northstowe Education Campus in Cambridge, UK; and Press House in London, UK.

Thomas is passionate about Mass Timber, and his thesis focused on NLT design and implementation in Canada, part of which formed the basis for the US and Canadian NLT Design & Construction Guides.

 

SELECTED PROJECTS

2019
SHAARE ZEDEK CANCER CENTRE
SHAARE ZEDEK CANCER CENTRE

Shaare Zedek Medical Centre is one of Israel’s most prominent health sciences organizations. Aspect is engaged to help develop the roof / lobby area of the new expansion, which is a mass timber structure with a large atrium skylight resembling a “butterfly”. Along with concept development, Aspect facilitated the RFQ and RFP process to help find the right partner for execution of the timber structure. Learn more…

 

Farrow Partners | Jerusalem, Israel
2018
B&B GUIMARAES
B&B GUIMARAES

A new B&B facility comprised of two base levels of reinforced concrete and two 4-storey CREE buildings overtop, with a total floor area of 77,500 sq.ft. Aspect provided complete structural engineering for the system, the complete shop drawing package for the prefabricated timber-concrete-hybrid slabs and prefabricated light wood frame panels, as well installation drawings. Learn more…

 

Grupo Casais | Guimarães, Portugal
2017
NORTHSTOWE EDUCATION CAMPUS*
NORTHSTOWE EDUCATION CAMPUS*

Part of a larger masterplan development, this project involved a number of buildings including a secondary school, special needs school, and sports facilities. The entire structural frame above ground for the buildings is formed from CLT and glulam comprising over 3000m3 timber. A special challenge was the requirement for a future extension of the sports hall, solved with a state-of-the-art glulam truss connected with glued in rods. Learn more…

 

Frank Shaw Associates | Cambridge, UK
PRESS HOUSE*
PRESS HOUSE*

An affordable mixed-use residential development in Neasden, London, comprised of four blocks of varying heights, between 2 to 8 storeys. The CLT and glulam frame sits on top of a concrete podium, which forms the parking space and an elevated courtyard. CLT shear walls and floor plates create an efficient structure featuring hanging steel balconies attached to the main frame. Learn More…

 

Eurban | London, UK

*Work performed prior to joining Aspect

 

ASPECT couldn’t be happier to have Thomas as a key member of our team. Our Associates are some of the best in the structural engineering business, learn more about our Associates.

 


Meet the Associates – Eva Chau

We are thrilled to announce that Eva Chau (P.Eng., M.Eng.) has been promoted to Associate in our Toronto office! Eva has a wealth of experience in designing with all major building materials on projects ranging from small house renovations to large institutional, commercial, and civic projects. In her leadership role, Eva provides mentorship to our younger engineers and supports business development in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto and a Masters degree in Structural and Earthquake Engineering from the University of British Columbia.

Eva has worked on several high-profile and award-winning projects including St. Luke’s United Church Redevelopment in Toronto; Oakville Fire Station No.8; Humber River Regional Hospital in North York, ON; Royal Canadian Electrical & Mechanical Engineering School in Borden, ON; and Pioneer Village Subway Station in Toronto.

Eva is passionate about structural engineering and always strives to help clients realize their unique visions. She believes that expressive and ambitious architecture does not have to come at the expense of rational and efficient structural systems.

 

SELECTED PROJECTS

2019
ST. LUKE’S UNITED CHURCH
ST. LUKE’S UNITED CHURCH

A new 12 storey residential building that will be constructed directly adjacent to the heritage St. Luke’s United Church. A portion of the new building will project overtop of the existing church. The project also includes demolition of some of the more recent additions around the main Sanctuary, and repurposing the existing main sanctuary building for new programming. Learn more…

 

KPMB Architects | Toronto, ON
OAKVILLE FIRE STATION NO.8
OAKVILLE FIRE STATION NO.8

Oakville Fire Station No. 8 is a hybrid structure – a combination of mass timber and structural steel. Aspect was the specialty mass timber engineer working under Element 5 who was responsible for the supply of the mass timber package. The building is designed with a high performing building enclosure resulting in better thermal performance and reduced energy costs. Learn More…

 

Lett Architects, Element5 | Oakville, ON
2018
ROYAL CANADIAN ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEERING SCHOOL*
ROYAL CANADIAN ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEERING SCHOOL*

This 140,000 sq.ft building serves as the central training facility for all Canadian Armed Forces mechanical and electrical engineers. Built to accommodate modern military vehicles and specialized training equipment, the building includes storage areas, administration and office spaces, classrooms, and six high-bay shop spaces for equipment maintenance training.

Learn more…

 

RDHA Architects  | Borden, ON
2017
PIONEER VILLAGE SUBWAY STATION*
PIONEER VILLAGE SUBWAY STATION*

One of the 6 new subway stations on the TTC’s York-Spadina subway extension, this 175,000 sq.ft. station is a distinct, whimsical architectural landmark incorporating a unique subway entrance hall clad in weathered steel and red porcelain enamel. The adjacent bus terminal features a cantilevered Corten canopy.

Learn more…

 

IBI Group, aLL Design | Toronto, ON

*Work performed prior to joining Aspect

 

ASPECT couldn’t be happier to have Eva as a key member of our team. Our Associates are some of the best in the structural engineering business, learn more about our Associates.

 


Adam Gerber Wins Inaugural SEABC Young Meritorious Achievement Award

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Adam Gerber has won the inaugural SEABC Young Meritorious Achievement Award! This award is granted to an engineer who demonstrates significant professional achievements early in their career.

Adam is recognized for his outstanding contribution to the field of Engineering. He is a teacher, mentor, and an exceptional Engineer. He’s a problem solver, always thinking outside the box and not afraid to use sound judgement in tackling engineering challenges. He enthusiastically trains and mentors those starting out in the field. And finally, he is a consummate professional – extremely well respected by his peers and those he works with throughout the industry.

Adam has a breadth of hands-on and technical experience, which is largely unique in the field of Structural Engineering. Prior to and throughout his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia, he gained experience in the design and construction of timber structures as a carpenter, foreman, estimator, and structural EIT. This enables him to view projects from the perspective of designers, builders, and managers, assisting him in creating cost-effective, constructible, and efficient solutions. Adam is also a certified Passive House Consultant.

Adam returned to the University of British Columbia where he earned his Master’s degree in Structural and Earthquake Engineering. His research focused on the development of timber-concrete composite technology and vibration performance of floors. His work in this area sought to identify high-performance and low-cost connection technology, and compare their performance across several mass timber products. The test program, widely cited throughout the industry, was the largest of its kind and demonstrated the safety, viability, and opportunity for the further implementation of the technology in Canada and around the world.

Adam joined Aspect Structural Engineers at its inception in 2016, and became a Principal in 2018. His leadership and influence has been pivotal in both laying the foundations for the business and in championing the positive growth trajectory of the firm.

Adam currently acts as one of the Managing Principals, as well as the Toronto office lead. Most recently, Adam completed his MBA in December, 2020, which has further enabled him to deepen the firm’s business management and strategic planning functionality.

Big congrats, Adam - well deserved!

 


Meet the Associates – Shawn Kennedy

We are thrilled to announce that Shawn Kennedy (P.Eng., PE, M.A.Sc.) has joined the ASPECT team as an Associate in our Toronto office. Shawn graduated from the University of Sherbrooke in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering, and began his career in Vancouver working mainly on Institutional, Commercial, Residential and Mass Timber projects. He completed his Master’s in Civil Engineering in 2014 from the University of Laval in Quebec City, where his research focused on connections for Mass Timber products.

Shawn has worked on several high-profile and award-winning projects in Canada and Internationally, including the Ashram Temple of Light in Kootenay Bay, BC; NLC Heavy Mechanical Trade Building in Dawson Creek, BC;  Terrace House in Vancouver, BC; OSU Forest Science Complex in Corvallis, OR; and Créteil Office Building in Paris, France.

Shawn is passionate about Mass Timber, and his Master’s research focused on fastener capacity in timber engineered products, which served as the basis for the development of design equations on the latest CSA 086 standard.

 

SELECTED PROJECTS

2019
ASHRAM TEMPLE OF LIGHT*
ASHRAM TEMPLE OF LIGHT*

This remote temple for the Yasodhara Ashram is on the forest’s edge overlooking Kootenay Lake. The structure consists of 8 large glulam arches connected by an innovative ring moment connection. Prefab light frame panels are laid across the arches to create the 3D flower shape of the temple. Learn more…

 

Patkau Architects | Kootenay Bay, BC
NLC TRADE CENTRE*
NLC TRADE CENTRE*

This building at the Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek provides workshops for carpentry, welding, plumbing, millwright, wind turbine technology, as well as student commons, classrooms, and offices. The building includes several skylights and long perimeter clerestories. The efficient mass timber structure includes prefabricated edge laminated veneer lumber (LVL) roof panels, LVL posts & beams, and cross laminated timber (CLT) walls. Learn More…

 

McFarland Marceau Architects | Dawson Creek, BC
2018
COLLEGE OF NEW CALEDONIA HMTF TRADE CENTRE*
COLLEGE OF NEW CALEDONIA HMTF TRADE CENTRE*

A training facility for the students of heavy machinery, this building includes a large multifunctional workshop and several dedicated technology laboratories. Designed to offer much natural light, this two storey facility aims for an industrial yet elegant look, with structure including concrete, steel, masonry, and mass timber. Learn more…

 

OMB Architects  | Dawson Creek, BC
2017
HILLCREST RESIDENCE*
HILLCREST RESIDENCE*

An exceptional private home in Whistler, perched above Alta Lake. The finished product demonstrates a distinct attention to detail. Steel framing was utilized to achieve impressive cantilevers and wood construction was opted for at the upper levels. The residence is Passivhaus intent using specialized connectors to minimize the effect of heat bridges.

 

Gort Scott Architect | Whistler, BC

*Work performed prior to joining Aspect

 

PUBLICATIONS / PRESENTATIONS

Aside from engineering many state-of-the-art buildings, Shawn is also engaged with the engineering community through publications and talks such as:

ISM & SCGC Montreal & Quebec CityOregon State University Peavy Hall Project2020
Cecobois (Montreal & Quebec City)Innovations in Mass Timber Design2018
Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA)Mass Timber Structural Innovations2017
WCTE Quebec CityDesign Equations for Dowel Embedment Strength and Withdrawal Resistance for Threaded Fasteners in CLT2014
Publication (WCTE)Design Equations for Embedment Strength of Wood for Threaded Fasteners in the Canadian Timber Design Code2014
Publication (WCTE)Design Equation for Withdrawal Resistance of Threaded Fasteners in the Canadian Timber Design Code2014
Publication (WCTE)Design Equations for Dowel Embedment Strength and Withdrawal Resistance for Threaded Fasteners in CLT2014

 

ASPECT couldn’t be happier to have Shawn as a key member of our team. Our Associates are some of the best in the structural engineering business, learn more about our Associates.

 


International Women in Engineering Day

In celebration of International Women In Engineering Day on June 23, we are celebrating the incredible women on our team and sharing their experiences in the world of Engineering. Read more below about our Trailblazers, Collaborators and Thinkers.

Aishling Browne

Project Engineer | M.Eng, E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
My decision to pursue a degree in Structural Engineering was down to a fascination with Architecture and an innate curiosity about how things are constructed. It was also a result of watching too much Grand Designs growing up. An internship eight years ago cemented my passion about the built environment and kick-started my career.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I was the only girl in my class for several subjects in high school – so working in a male-dominated environment was not an intimidating prospect. My experience in the industry has had minor challenges but learning to trust your instincts and use your voice are key to overcoming them.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
If you’re looking for a career that is both challenging and rewarding, Engineering is the way to go. It can be very varied – different types of projects, structural systems, materials – which keep it interesting. There is always something new to learn no matter how long you’ve worked in the industry.

Aishling Browne

Project Engineer | M.Eng, E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
My decision to pursue a degree in Structural Engineering was down to a fascination with Architecture and an innate curiosity about how things are constructed. It was also a result of watching too much Grand Designs growing up. An internship eight years ago cemented my passion about the built environment and kick-started my career.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I was the only girl in my class for several subjects in high school – so working in a male-dominated environment was not an intimidating prospect. My experience in the industry has had minor challenges but learning to trust your instincts and use your voice are key to overcoming them.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
If you’re looking for a career that is both challenging and rewarding, Engineering is the way to go. It can be very varied – different types of projects, structural systems, materials – which keep it interesting. There is always something new to learn no matter how long you’ve worked in the industry.

Ilana Danzig

Associate | P.Eng., Struct. Eng., M.Eng., PE, SE


How did you get into Engineering?
Growing up, I had an affinity for math and physics. The rules and language just made sense to me. It’s obvious to me now that I was an Engineer-to-be, but I didn’t have any Engineer role models in my life and had no idea what Engineers “did.” In high school I received a scholarship that was offered to women to entice them to Engineering and I think that was the first time I ever considered the field. With a “why not” attitude, and still no clue what Engineering was, I took a leap into the field and I have never once looked back. By now I think I have figured out what (some) Engineers do.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
Being the only woman on a construction site used to be really awful. One of my university summer jobs was working on a site doing construction management, and the blatant and subtle sexism left me feeling as if I didn’t belong in Engineering. I hated that I had to develop a thick skin, laugh along with the jokes, and feel alone in my struggle and self-consciousness about my age and gender. Time has been kind to the industry though, and over the years, at least here in BC, I’ve seen a much better culture emerge on most construction sites.

Representation was another challenge. I can count on one hand the number of female senior Engineers who I’ve worked with in my career. Amongst Engineers, Technicians, and Architects, examples of women who were senior in their field were rare. Women who were senior in their field AND had kids were almost nonexistent. Representation matters so much more than people who’ve never lacked for it understand. I couldn’t see myself in senior roles, especially if I was a parent, and I worried that I would hinder my career by having a child. Today, I see so many more examples of women who are senior in their field, women in Engineering with kids and, so importantly, Dads taking on the kind of active parenting that traditionally used to be left to Mom.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
I have three messages to the girls/women entering the field:
1.  Know that the field of Engineering is stronger with you than without you. Engineering is primarily a field of creativity that happens to use the language of math and physics. Uniformity is the death of creativity, whereas creativity benefits enormously from diversity, broad perspectives, and people coming at problems in different ways.
2.  Seek out role models and mentors. Regardless of gender, seek out people you admire, can learn from, and you can draw inspiration from.
3.  You have power in your choices. When you choose a school, a job, or even a study group that explicitly recognizes the inherent value in diversity, you are casting a vote.

Ilana Danzig

Associate | P.Eng., Struct. Eng., M.Eng., PE, SE


How did you get into Engineering?
Growing up, I had an affinity for math and physics. The rules and language just made sense to me. It’s obvious to me now that I was an Engineer-to-be, but I didn’t have any Engineer role models in my life and had no idea what Engineers “did.” In high school I received a scholarship that was offered to women to entice them to Engineering and I think that was the first time I ever considered the field. With a “why not” attitude, and still no clue what Engineering was, I took a leap into the field and I have never once looked back. By now I think I have figured out what (some) Engineers do.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
Being the only woman on a construction site used to be really awful. One of my university summer jobs was working on a site doing construction management, and the blatant and subtle sexism left me feeling as if I didn’t belong in Engineering. I hated that I had to develop a thick skin, laugh along with the jokes, and feel alone in my struggle and self-consciousness about my age and gender. Time has been kind to the industry though, and over the years, at least here in BC, I’ve seen a much better culture emerge on most construction sites.

Representation was another challenge. I can count on one hand the number of female senior Engineers who I’ve worked with in my career. Amongst Engineers, Technicians, and Architects, examples of women who were senior in their field were rare. Women who were senior in their field AND had kids were almost nonexistent. Representation matters so much more than people who’ve never lacked for it understand. I couldn’t see myself in senior roles, especially if I was a parent, and I worried that I would hinder my career by having a child. Today, I see so many more examples of women who are senior in their field, women in Engineering with kids and, so importantly, Dads taking on the kind of active parenting that traditionally used to be left to Mom.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
I have three messages to the girls/women entering the field:
1.  Know that the field of Engineering is stronger with you than without you. Engineering is primarily a field of creativity that happens to use the language of math and physics. Uniformity is the death of creativity, whereas creativity benefits enormously from diversity, broad perspectives, and people coming at problems in different ways.
2.  Seek out role models and mentors. Regardless of gender, seek out people you admire, can learn from, and you can draw inspiration from.
3.  You have power in your choices. When you choose a school, a job, or even a study group that explicitly recognizes the inherent value in diversity, you are casting a vote.

Ellie Clark

Project Engineer | M.Eng., E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
Whilst trying to decide which degree to study at university, I was torn between taking a creative subject as I loved design, or a mathematical degree as this is where I was academically stronger. A friend suggested that I look into studying engineering, as the skills required combine science, design and maths.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
As a female engineer, you will often find yourself as the only woman on site and in meetings. Having the confidence to speak up and get your point across can sometimes be challenging, especially when you are starting out.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
I have been lucky to have been taught by and worked with some great female engineers who have been wonderful role models for me.  I would advise young female engineers to seek out the same support as it is can be difficult to believe you can do something when you don’t see people similar to you achieving it.

Ellie Clark

Project Engineer | M.Eng., E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
Whilst trying to decide which degree to study at university, I was torn between taking a creative subject as I loved design, or a mathematical degree as this is where I was academically stronger. A friend suggested that I look into studying engineering, as the skills required combine science, design and maths.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
As a female engineer, you will often find yourself as the only woman on site and in meetings. Having the confidence to speak up and get your point across can sometimes be challenging, especially when you are starting out.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
I have been lucky to have been taught by and worked with some great female engineers who have been wonderful role models for me.  I would advise young female engineers to seek out the same support as it is can be difficult to believe you can do something when you don’t see people similar to you achieving it.

Julia Fatkullina

Project Accountant


What do you enjoy most about working as a Project Accountant in Engineering?
Throughout my career I’ve worked in a variety of industries, and I am relatively new to Engineering. My favourite part from day one was the idea of being a part of something big – big projects that benefit so many people. It starts as an idea, drawing or a model, and then I can see it coming to life phase-by-phase. The whole process is transpiring in front of my eyes. After some time when I see pictures of the final result, it just blows my mind! Thinking that I was a part of this process, supporting the team of Engineers on the financial side of business, thinking of all these people that have new homes, schools, bridges, etc. makes me feel happy and fulfilled. I’m very proud to be a part of the team that makes the world a better place, one building at a time. And I truly admire women who choose this complex profession as their career.

Julia Fatkullina

Project Accountant


What do you enjoy most about working as a Project Accountant in Engineering?
Throughout my career I’ve worked in a variety of industries, and I am relatively new to Engineering. My favourite part from day one was the idea of being a part of something big – big projects that benefit so many people. It starts as an idea, drawing or a model, and then I can see it coming to life phase-by-phase. The whole process is transpiring in front of my eyes. After some time when I see pictures of the final result, it just blows my mind! Thinking that I was a part of this process, supporting the team of Engineers on the financial side of business, thinking of all these people that have new homes, schools, bridges, etc. makes me feel happy and fulfilled. I’m very proud to be a part of the team that makes the world a better place, one building at a time. And I truly admire women who choose this complex profession as their career.

Ornagh Higgins

Project Engineer | M.Eng., E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
I really enjoyed studying Maths and Science in school and I was looking for a career that involved these subjects. After completing a work experience placement in Engineering I knew it was what I wanted to do. I loved the problem-solving aspects and working within multi-disciplinary teams on the same project.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I started my career during the recession in Ireland so I struggled to find a graduate position and had to look further afield. While moving abroad for work was initially a challenge it opened up lots of opportunities and enhanced my career. I’ve been fortunate to work in the U.K., Austria and Canada.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
If you find an area that interests you, go for it! It’s an extremely rewarding and stimulating job. What I love most about Engineering is being involved in projects from the initial design sketches through to the built structure. Also, the industry is constantly evolving so you’ll never run out of new things to learn.

Ornagh Higgins

Project Engineer | M.Eng., E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
I really enjoyed studying Maths and Science in school and I was looking for a career that involved these subjects. After completing a work experience placement in Engineering I knew it was what I wanted to do. I loved the problem-solving aspects and working within multi-disciplinary teams on the same project.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I started my career during the recession in Ireland so I struggled to find a graduate position and had to look further afield. While moving abroad for work was initially a challenge it opened up lots of opportunities and enhanced my career. I’ve been fortunate to work in the U.K., Austria and Canada.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
If you find an area that interests you, go for it! It’s an extremely rewarding and stimulating job. What I love most about Engineering is being involved in projects from the initial design sketches through to the built structure. Also, the industry is constantly evolving so you’ll never run out of new things to learn.

Raquel Fernandez

BIM Technician


How did you get into Engineering?
I got into Engineering thanks to my obsession with pretty drawings and inspiring architectural structures.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
Surprisingly, it is a constant challenge to keep communication skills up to par with technical skills, which we were not trained for in school and seems to be at the root behind most work problems. It is also a challenge to be singled out frequently based on my gender in this field, both for better and for worse, although it is improving with time.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
Associate yourself with great people who will stand by you. Work with people who you have fun with and share plenty of values with. Be stubborn enough to persevere through challenging problems, some of them systemic, which may be overwhelming at times. But whatever happens, don’t give up on being a girl.

Raquel Fernandez

BIM Technician


How did you get into Engineering?
I got into Engineering thanks to my obsession with pretty drawings and inspiring architectural structures.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
Surprisingly, it is a constant challenge to keep communication skills up to par with technical skills, which we were not trained for in school and seems to be at the root behind most work problems. It is also a challenge to be singled out frequently based on my gender in this field, both for better and for worse, although it is improving with time.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
Associate yourself with great people who will stand by you. Work with people who you have fun with and share plenty of values with. Be stubborn enough to persevere through challenging problems, some of them systemic, which may be overwhelming at times. But whatever happens, don’t give up on being a girl.

Eva Chau

Project Manager | P.Eng., M.Eng.


How did you get into Engineering?
Growing up, I was always interested in the built environment. Structural Engineering was a field that aligned well my interest and suited my skills in math and science. It is a choice that I have been very happy with.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
There have been times when some clients or contractors would look to a male colleague to corroborate a statement I made in order to trust what I have said. And, as I have recently become a mother, it is challenging me to think about how I can achieve my career goals and meet my goals within my family.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
Trust in yourself and be confident with your abilities.

Eva Chau

Project Manager | P.Eng., M.Eng.


How did you get into Engineering?
Growing up, I was always interested in the built environment. Structural Engineering was a field that aligned well my interest and suited my skills in math and science. It is a choice that I have been very happy with.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
There have been times when some clients or contractors would look to a male colleague to corroborate a statement I made in order to trust what I have said. And, as I have recently become a mother, it is challenging me to think about how I can achieve my career goals and meet my goals within my family.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
Trust in yourself and be confident with your abilities.

Meike Engel

Project Engineer | B.Eng., E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
I chose to study Engineering simply because I was passionate about Math and Physics in high school. From a young age, I was always curious, and loved problem solving and so Engineering seemed like a naturally good fit for me.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I suppose confidence is a main challenge which I have faced early on. Thankfully, I have always been surrounded by amazing mentors, teachers, and colleagues who have helped and encouraged me to stand up and ask lots and lots of questions! The number of women entering STEM fields is increasing significantly and more and more businesses seem to be excited about seeing more female representation within their team. My Civil Engineering class was made up of nearly 40% women which was very exciting and encouraging to be a part of!

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
Engineering is an amazing field to be a part of! It is dynamic, exciting, and there will always be something new to learn. My advice to young women entering the field would be to never stop asking questions and to always stay curious! I would also recommend doing as many internships as you can during your degree to help guide you and find your passion within the field!

Meike Engel

Project Engineer | B.Eng., E.I.T.


How did you get into Engineering?
I chose to study Engineering simply because I was passionate about Math and Physics in high school. From a young age, I was always curious, and loved problem solving and so Engineering seemed like a naturally good fit for me.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I suppose confidence is a main challenge which I have faced early on. Thankfully, I have always been surrounded by amazing mentors, teachers, and colleagues who have helped and encouraged me to stand up and ask lots and lots of questions! The number of women entering STEM fields is increasing significantly and more and more businesses seem to be excited about seeing more female representation within their team. My Civil Engineering class was made up of nearly 40% women which was very exciting and encouraging to be a part of!

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
Engineering is an amazing field to be a part of! It is dynamic, exciting, and there will always be something new to learn. My advice to young women entering the field would be to never stop asking questions and to always stay curious! I would also recommend doing as many internships as you can during your degree to help guide you and find your passion within the field!

Julia Pham

BIM Technician


How did you get into Engineering?
I got into this AEC industry because I saw the work that my Dad and brother did in this field and wanted to be a part of the excitement too! I took a Structural CAD and Graphics program and started working part time at the company I had my practicum with, and transitioned to full time when I finished the bulk of the program. I love how I get to be a part of the built environment in my city and beyond, and learn how challenges are overcome to make structures stand and function.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I started out working in an office with little female mentorship or example. I didn’t know how to approach my career when I faced jokes or was treated differently than my male peers. The industry is changing a lot and I keep having more and more positive experiences as I blend in for being the person that I am and not the token female in the room. The other is balancing the desire to spend time innovating with the realities of time!

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
First, what a great field to be interested in! This is an amazing field to be in if you love solving puzzles! Know that exploring the “why’s” of the problems helps with the “how”. Know that the joy that comes from teamwork and the effort that goes into a well-done project is beyond calculation. If you are in anyway concerned that this has traditionally been a male-dominated industry – do not fear! Know that if you work hard and speak up, your work will be seen for the results and effort you put in. Some things that have helped me along my way have been getting to know my coworkers and finding commonalities vs. focusing on the differences (ie. they’re so much older, they’re all men etc.), joking back, speaking up, and finding great mentors within and outside of the workplace. If you are looking for resources, Girls in Tech and Holly Burton from Women in Male-Dominated Industries are great places to start. The industry as a whole is getting much better. This truly is an exciting time to be in the field!

Julia Pham

BIM Technician


How did you get into Engineering?
I got into this AEC industry because I saw the work that my Dad and brother did in this field and wanted to be a part of the excitement too! I took a Structural CAD and Graphics program and started working part time at the company I had my practicum with, and transitioned to full time when I finished the bulk of the program. I love how I get to be a part of the built environment in my city and beyond, and learn how challenges are overcome to make structures stand and function.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I started out working in an office with little female mentorship or example. I didn’t know how to approach my career when I faced jokes or was treated differently than my male peers. The industry is changing a lot and I keep having more and more positive experiences as I blend in for being the person that I am and not the token female in the room. The other is balancing the desire to spend time innovating with the realities of time!

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
First, what a great field to be interested in! This is an amazing field to be in if you love solving puzzles! Know that exploring the “why’s” of the problems helps with the “how”. Know that the joy that comes from teamwork and the effort that goes into a well-done project is beyond calculation. If you are in anyway concerned that this has traditionally been a male-dominated industry – do not fear! Know that if you work hard and speak up, your work will be seen for the results and effort you put in. Some things that have helped me along my way have been getting to know my coworkers and finding commonalities vs. focusing on the differences (ie. they’re so much older, they’re all men etc.), joking back, speaking up, and finding great mentors within and outside of the workplace. If you are looking for resources, Girls in Tech and Holly Burton from Women in Male-Dominated Industries are great places to start. The industry as a whole is getting much better. This truly is an exciting time to be in the field!

Gina Sheppard

Principal


How did you get into Engineering?
The truthful answer is: randomly – I picked a CAD Program and got “stuck” with the structural option. The real question is why did I stay? I’ve always enjoyed both math and visuals, and the field is the perfect blend of numbers and creativity – using rules to effect aesthetics. My passion for beautiful, well-communicated designs was sparked the day I got out of school and it just keeps getting stronger with every project I see come to life. One defining moment was when an engineer explained how he had used the golden ratio to layout the tight fit pins on an exposed glulam brace – I was hooked! The subfield of drafting, as well, has evolved so much – gone are the days when the technicians were locked in the closet and worked in a silo. I saw how different people on the team contributed in a collaborative way, found my place in that team, and never looked back.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I’ve been in meetings where there is that awkward pause when people wonder if they should shake hands with the one female in the room.  I’ve had to learn to navigate the very unfamiliar territory of being an advocate for myself, which I think many young women find unintuitive.  I believe imposter syndrome is something many women struggle with and it’s definitely been a theme for me over the years.  Thankfully, throughout my entire career I’ve worked with people who were constant allies for me, and women in the field in general.  I feel particularly lucky to say that it was rare to feel isolated due to my gender within the office, and am so proud to see that it is becoming less and less of an issue future generations will face.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
It’s not as scary as you think!  Yes, women are still underrepresented, but that is constantly changing for the good.  Diversity is the secret ingredient that makes a good team into a strong team.

It’s um, like, super fun.  It’s a path that allows you to flex both sides of the brain. It continually offers new challenges and learning opportunities and is full of rewarding experiences as you work through the design and construction process – from concept to finished structure.  The field never gets boring as there are always new problems to investigate and solve.

Finally, and importantly, individual success is the product of exposure, encouragement, advice, and instruction from a variety of perspectives so draw on mentorship and community from a diverse range of people both in out of the field.

Gina Sheppard

Principal


How did you get into Engineering?
The truthful answer is: randomly – I picked a CAD Program and got “stuck” with the structural option. The real question is why did I stay? I’ve always enjoyed both math and visuals, and the field is the perfect blend of numbers and creativity – using rules to effect aesthetics. My passion for beautiful, well-communicated designs was sparked the day I got out of school and it just keeps getting stronger with every project I see come to life. One defining moment was when an engineer explained how he had used the golden ratio to layout the tight fit pins on an exposed glulam brace – I was hooked! The subfield of drafting, as well, has evolved so much – gone are the days when the technicians were locked in the closet and worked in a silo. I saw how different people on the team contributed in a collaborative way, found my place in that team, and never looked back.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way, and now?
I’ve been in meetings where there is that awkward pause when people wonder if they should shake hands with the one female in the room.  I’ve had to learn to navigate the very unfamiliar territory of being an advocate for myself, which I think many young women find unintuitive.  I believe imposter syndrome is something many women struggle with and it’s definitely been a theme for me over the years.  Thankfully, throughout my entire career I’ve worked with people who were constant allies for me, and women in the field in general.  I feel particularly lucky to say that it was rare to feel isolated due to my gender within the office, and am so proud to see that it is becoming less and less of an issue future generations will face.

What advice would you give to girls/women thinking of entering the field?
It’s not as scary as you think!  Yes, women are still underrepresented, but that is constantly changing for the good.  Diversity is the secret ingredient that makes a good team into a great team.

It’s um, like, super fun.  It’s a path that allows you to flex both sides of the brain. It continually offers new challenges and learning opportunities and is full of rewarding experiences as you work through the design and construction process – from concept to finished structure.  The field never gets boring as there are always new problems to investigate and solve.

Finally, and importantly, individual success is the product of exposure, encouragement, advice, and instruction from a variety of perspectives so draw on mentorship and community from a diverse range of people both in out of the field