Provincial Engineering & Geoscience Week

March 2013

A Salute to Professional Engineers & Geoscientists

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2 | W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S A S a l u t e t o P r o f e ss i o n a l E n g i n e e r s & G e o s c i e n t i s t s ! Engineering enlightenment By Jennifer McFee for the Free Press Ken Drysdale is the president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Manitoba, as well as the president and CEO of Accutech Engineering Inc. Drysdale takes part in a question-and-answer session to offer up everything you ever wanted to know about engineering. Q: What is an engineer? A: Engineers are the connecting link between pure science and pure scientific research and the real world. Engineers use scientific and mathematical principles to create solutions or facilities that society uses in general. Engineers are involved with everything in society. The clothes you wear are produced by machines that are developed by engineers in facilities that are developed by engineers. They are transported to market on vehicles that are designed by engineers on engineered roads. Everything in the modern world is touched by engineers. Q: What are the different areas of engineering? A: There are a number of broad areas where engineers generally practise. An engineer might be in the consulting business, which is what I���m in, or you could be working in a government department or for a specific industry. Within those broad areas, there���s civil engineering, which might be roads and structures. There���s electrical engineering, which would be power distribution. There���s mechanical engineering, which is plumbing and heating and ventilating. There���s computer engineering, which is specifically related to software programming. There���s agricultural engineering, which is related to the process of agriculture. There���s such a wide variety of those specific disciplines that it���s reflective of what we have in our society. Q: How does someone become an engineer? A: They need to make that decision early on because in the initial stages of high school, they���ve got to get into the math and science programs. From there, they get into the university program. It���s one year of generalized study plus four years of engineering school study. After five years of schooling, they can register as an engineer-in-training. Then for an additional four years, they work under the direct supervision of a licensed engineer. If they successfully complete the four years of practice under an engineer, then they���re eligible for registration. Q: What is a typical workday like for an engineer? A: There���s such a variety of jobs and opportunities in engineering that it could almost fit any personality. Some people want to come in to work and know that they���ll be doing ���XYZ��� for the day. There are opportunities for people like that. Some people, like me, want to come in and not quite know what the phone���s going to bring and not quite know what aircraft I���m going to be on next week. For me, I need that, and for other people, that would be terrible. There���s that spectrum from one to the other, and there���s positions in the industry for all of those personality types. Q: What are some recent noteworthy engineering innovations in the province? A: There���s a variety of significant innovation in almost every field here in Manitoba. One thing that comes to mind immediately would be the new Manitoba Hydro headquarters building, which is a state-of-the-art building when it comes to energy conservation. Q: What are some common misconceptions about engineering? A: I think the biggest issue isn���t so much misconception as the fact the general public has no idea of what professional engineers are and certainly has no idea of what they do. A lot of the technology and infrastructure around us work so well that engineers and engineering don���t really get into the news. So the public really is unaware of us. It���s not often that a member of the public Ken Drysdale (Submitted photo) interfaces with an engineer directly. We���re designing the buildings, we���re designing the roads and we���re designing the bridges. The regular population doesn���t hire us. The governments do. Industry does. We���re all around you. Everything you look at is engineering, but we���re almost anonymous to the public. Q: What are the critical issues the engineering industry is currently facing? A: There���s a number of critical issues. The first and foremost on my mind is the availability of qualified people going into the profession and the capacity of the university to graduate professional engineers. We need more qualified people coming out of university. We need more people attracted to the business. It���s certainly a growing business. Society���s getting more and more complex, and there���s a greater and greater need for engineers. I would say that���s the number one issue right now. There���s a great demand. Q: What makes engineering a rewarding career? A: There���s such a wide spectrum of things that you can do as an engineer that I think anyone has the opportunity to find the niche that satisfies them. For me, I���m the kind of person that needs excitement and stimulation, so I���m a consulting engineer and I���ve been all over the world. I���ve designed and invented things that have never been done before in the world. That���s one source of satisfaction ��� the excitement, being able to travel around and see things. You���re given the opportunity to solve problems that may never have been solved before. Most engineers can look around and see the physical manifestations of what they���ve done. Q: Any final thoughts? A: Engineering people, even outside the profession, are very involved in their communities, starting from the beginning of their career. When an engineer is registering to get a license and to become an engineerin-training at a university, there are requirements for them to participate and volunteer in the community. They have to fulfill those requirements in order to become registered as engineers. So from the very beginning of their careers, they���re being encouraged not only to do their jobs but to be part of the community.

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