Job title and employer:
Civil Engineering Technician — WSP
What does your job title mean?
I create drawings that are used to build civil engineering projects. I take concepts from an engineer and translate them into something that is useable for construction.
I was born and grew up in Port Alberni, BC, Canada
Currently I live in Campbell River, BC
Where did you complete your training or education?
I did a 1-year drafting certification at Kwantlen College in Surrey, BC. My training ended up being mostly on the job over years of working closely with engineers. A quicker way to my job would be to take a 2-year diploma program.
What you do at work?
I work for the engineering consulting company, WSP. For the last 5 years, I have worked from a home office. As most of my work is done on the computer, I can sometimes go a full day without talking to someone. Generally, my day involves looking at my to-do list and deciding which deadlines are most pressing. Sometimes I have projects that will last weeks, others just a few hours. Most of the time I am drawing up engineering plans that will then be used by the construction industry to build projects. My work varies from pipe plans and profiles, to road design and ditching. Sometimes it includes planning a subdivision. I use specialized software that makes my job a breeze. Most of my work communication is done using email, Skype or Microsoft teams. I work with engineers all over the country.
How does what you do affect people’s lives?
I like seeing the projects I work on built. As an example, I worked on the plans for the City of Nanaimo welcome signs. Every time I go to Nanaimo I get a little sense of pride in seeing something I worked hard on come to life.
What motivates you in your career?
Every day I have the opportunity to learn something new. I enjoy providing input into things that I know are going to be built, whether it’s a water treatment plant or a parking lot. I work with many smart people that challenge me in ways I might not be in another career. I am encouraged to think and be creative every day. While it’s not as cool as painting, I still get to produce a drawing that allows for some creativity!
How did you get to where you are today?
I did not expect to be doing this when I was in high school. I wanted to be an artist first. Then I was gently reminded most artists don’t make a lot of money. I applied to the school of social work. However, I did not get into the program. I was taking drafting in high school. Drafting is the process of making technical drawings of how something works or built. It was kind of artsy and gave me an outlet for drawing. In addition, as I was to find out, it had potential for a career. I worked at an engineering firm on a work experience week. I had the chance to do some drafting and turns out, I was really good at it! The firm hired me out of high school. I learned on the job, and it all progressed from there.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I enjoy hiking, camping, and hanging out with my dog. I also play way too many video games and like to fall asleep with a book. I like painting and creative pursuits in general. I recently started needle felting and now my house is filled with silly little stuffed animals that I don’t know what to do with!
What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?
Drafting is a great profession to get into. The learning curve is not steep, and schooling can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. It’s a great alternative to traditional careers for women, and can provide a lot of flexibility and career progression.
As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?
There is a myth that you need to be the best student or the smartest person in the class to work in engineering and technology. It’s simply not true! I want all women to know that a career in engineering is not out of their reach.
When I was in high school, I enjoyed…
Industrial Arts / Shop Programs
Literature and English language arts
When I was in high school, I was someone who…
Liked helping people
Played video games
Was really creative
Didn’t really care about grades
Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
Learned best “by doing”
ASTTBC thanks Let’s Talk Science for their partnership in developing this career profile. Let’s Talk Science – a leading partner in Canadian education – is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering Canadian youth to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators, and volunteers across Canada. For more information about Let’s Talk Science, visit letstalkscience.ca.