After weeks of creating excitement for our Engineering Industry Event, I felt proud and relieved as everything fell into place and I was able to join the students to listen to the guest speakers. As someone from an arts background, engineering is something I am unfamiliar with and I was as eager to learn more about the industry as the students.
“Vancouver is weird”. Architect David Mah set the tone for the event by immediately drawing our attention to the fact that while the rest of Canada is stagnating in growth and development in the construction industry, Vancouver is surging with multitudes of projects and development. This was very encouraging news for the 28 students and graduates who attended the Brighton College Building and Engineering Technology Industry Event on Thursday, May 25, 2017, here at our Burnaby campus.
David talked about how Vancouver leads the way on Building Code standards as well. The bar is increasingly getting higher when it comes to getting a building permit, and more and more environmental and energy efficiency standards are being applied in this market, and as he explained, other municipalities usually follow suit. David also opened the discussion about expectations for working in the field and his sentiment that working in this field is more about passion than money was later echoed by the other speakers.
Reza Dashti, a Structural Engineer registered in B.C. lightened the mood and took a good-hearted jab at David and Kenneth King as the two architects in attendance. People in his role make the dreams and designs of architects a reality, and sometimes that isn’t easy. He used the Sydney Opera house as an example of how hard that realization can be sometimes. Reza had great advice for job searching and shared his story about coming to work in Canada from Iran. He encouraged the students to pick up the phone and call the companies that they want to work for, as he had done to get his first position in Canada. Reza’s resolve and persistence have clearly paid off, as he now owns his own successful structural firm, RD Engineering.
We were proud to welcome Jacqueline De Raadt from ASTTBC, whose enthusiasm was infectious. Jacqueline has an amazing background, including owning her own company and helping people find work. Jacqueline prepared an amazing presentation on her top 5 tips she wishes she had known when she was looking for work as a new graduate, and what she has observed about the current job search trends. She stressed the importance of networking, using all available avenues including attending as many events as possible (always say yes), accessing the hidden job market through connections and cold calling (85% of jobs aren’t posted on job sites) and using online forums like LinkedIn to increase one’s network and online presence.
Kenneth King of Kenneth King Architects took the opportunity to shoot back at Reza about the sometimes competing interests of architects and structural engineers, which filled the room with laughter. Kenneth has an incredible breadth of experience and has had a prolific career. He brought pictures of his work, and shared some insights about urban planning-rezoning and making spaces pedestrian friendly. As a former Urban Planner at the City of Vancouver, his insights were seated in real experience planning and designing in the very city that the students will be working. I was able to briefly connect with Kenneth and some students after the presentations, and could not help but smile hearing his advice for students just entering the industry to which he has made such a contribution.
Jenna Lee of Associated Engineering spoke as a Brighton alumnus. Jenna came to Brighton to get more practice in AutoCAD and learn Civil 3D to enter the Vancouver job market as a desirable candidate. Her practicum placement at Associated Engineering turned into a full-time position, and her story is a good example of how the combination of the right training and skills along with real work experience and networking leads to success. Jenna is now responsible for a number of large-scale municipal and corporate projects at Associated Engineering.
The speaking section of the event concluded with Harneet Randhawa of Oojala Lighting. After graduating from university, Harneet started his own business in electrical engineering. Harneet works with architects and structural engineers to light up their projects. He talked about how the electrical lighting design industry has changed over the past 5 years; LED lighting has opened up new lighting options for energy efficient design technology. He mentioned that GE, who was the first in the lighting business is now getting out the lighting industry, which is a good demonstration of how innovation and smaller businesses can influence and change an industry. Harneet echoed the advice of Reza and Jacqueline and recommended that our graduates spend some time researching employers, knock on doors and make calls to get the jobs that they want.
When the speakers finished everyone enjoyed refreshments and the opportunity to connect with the speakers for individual questions and discussions. In my position, I have the opportunity to get to know the Building and Engineering Technology students very well through daily interactions, and I admittedly felt a little warm and fuzzy seeing them connect with experienced professionals. Edward Cheung, Program Director for the department, was busy working the room and introducing students to speakers and facilitating connections. Thank you to Edward for bringing in an amazing group of people, Samantha Cassidy for planning and coordinating the event and all staff who stayed to help. The insights were timely and relevant, and the energy was incredible.