Visit career profiles of individual women in engineering and technology careers in the Vancouver Island / Coast region:


Lauren Hutchinson profile image

Lauren Hutchinson

Lab Technician

My day consists mainly of engaging with the students as...

Sarah-Campden image

Sarah Campden

Associate and Civil Technician

My title involves wearing three different hats. I am a...

Erin Karaim profile image

Erin Karaim

Civil Engineering Technician

I create drawings that are used to build civil engineering...

Lauren Hutchinson profile image

Lauren Hutchinson

Position: Lab Technician

Job title and employer:

Lab Technician – Camosun College

 

What does your job title mean?

I work to oversee and aid students in the college’s machine shop while they design and build their team’s capstone project.


Background information:

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Victoria, BC, Canada

Where do you live now?

Victoria, BC, Canada

Where did you complete your training or education?

Camosun College – Mechanical Engineering Technology Diploma

 


What you do at work?

My day consists mainly of engaging with the students as they work on their projects. This could include a variety of tasks depending on the needs of the day.

I work in and around a large assortment of machines and tools special to my trade. The machine lab contains a variety of specialized tools. This includes both manual and automatic mills/lathes, laser cutters for plastics and woods, as well as welding equipment. There are also 3D printers, an injection molding machine, and many other manual tools.

Students will come up to ask for help with finding tools or in setting up one of the machines. They may also need help in learning how to perform certain machining operations. I, and the other lab tech, will work with the students to answer all of their questions. We make sure that they learn to use the various tools properly. We also make sure the equipment is available to them.


How does what you do affect people’s lives?

The joy of my current position is being part of the experience as students design and build their amazing projects. Having been in their shoes, I understand the stress and chaos of a project semester! As a result, I try to encourage and facilitate productive and efficient machining methods.

I also use the skills I’ve gained and the access to the machine shop to take on side projects.

 


What motivates you in your career?

Engineering, especially mechanical engineering, is all about having a natural curiosity for learning. At my job, I am constantly learning and exploring new ways to design, machine, and manufacture. I love how this job allows me the freedom to train myself on the equipment. I do this through small independent projects that I take on. Most recently I volunteered to laser cut a selection of cabinet doors for local middle schools around the island.

On a larger scale, engineering simply excites me! I am passionate about where I will go with my career. This includes the things that I will get the work on and the people I will work with. I love being involved in youth outreach. I enjoy working and engaging with young students to get them interested in this field. Some highlights have been:

-Participating in introductory engineering classes offered to high school students

-Speaking to a large group of young female students about engineering

This past year I was honored to have been featured in Camosun College’s International Women’s Day campaign.


How did you get to where you are today?

The thought of any sort of engineering was far from my mind throughout high school. When I graduated, I was an honours roll student focusing on Literature and History. I travelled and worked abroad in a variety of jobs.  I was a social media manager for an online marketing company in Africa. I taught English in Austria. I also co-founded a company that provided social media, layout, design and website creation services.

It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized my passion for design, and my natural curiosity for how things worked was a great blend for a career in engineering. Having grown up with a supportive family, I never experienced any fears entering into a ‘male dominated’ field. I understood that it was only my own work ethic and abilities that would keep me from achieving the goals I set for myself. Now I am a Mechanical Engineering Technician, and on my way to getting my degree in the field.


What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

In my spare time (when I can find it), I am usually found refinishing old furniture I’ve found, reading, watching TV, or hanging out outside.

 


What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?

Go for it! The engineering field holds limitless possibilities. I firmly believe that we are only ever held back by the bounds of our imagination…and physics.

 


As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?

I can only lead by example and show young women that engineering is no longer a male dominated field.


 

When I was in high school, I enjoyed…

Art

History

Literature and English language arts

Music

Science

Technology

 

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

Enjoyed doing things on my own

Liked helping people

Enjoyed working with my hands

Liked being given free range to explore my ideas

Liked reading

Was really creative

Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do

Learned best “by doing”

Liked to take things apart to see how they worked

Liked to design or build things


 

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.

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#CareerDiscovery #LetsTalkScience

Sarah-Campden image

Sarah Campden

Position: Associate and Civil Technician

Job title and employer:

Associate and Civil Technician at Herold Engineering Limited

 

What does your job title mean?

My title involves wearing three different hats.

I am a shareholder in my firm, which means I am involved in decisions on how the company operates. I am a Project Manager, which means I write proposals and manage the overall wellbeing of the project, including the teams and invoicing. I am a Civil Technician, which means I am involved in the design and drafting of the project work and get to work with other Technicians, Technologists and Engineers in a variety of different types of engineering.

 


Background information:

Where were you born?

Victoria, British Columbia

Where do you live now?

Victoria, British Columbia

Where did you complete your training or education?

I did a combination of course and programs at different places. I completed a Diploma of Architectural Drafting and Building Technology at the Pacific Design Center. I studied Geography at Camosun College. I took courses in Planning and Subdivision Design at BCIT. I also did a lot of competency-based learning through my years of work experience.

 


What you do at work?

I work in an office and outside. In my office, there are 22 people in different departments and working on different types of projects. Sometimes there is overlap between my civil department and other departments. These are the most exciting projects to work on! I learn much more from interacting with other technologists and engineers that specialize in different types of projects. Sometimes I could be designing a parking lot. At other times, I could be working with the structural engineers on a bridge or marina. No two projects are the same, which makes for more learning opportunities.

My days can be long and challenging; I thrive on this! My mornings generally consist of scheduling project work time for others, and myself as well as speaking on the phone, attending in person and online meetings. I also spend time answering emails, solving problems, juggling tasks, working in teams, working alone, and drinking coffee.

I use my design and drafting skills for part of the day. This is my true love! This is where I get to explore the possibilities for a project and making my CAD drawings the best they can be. This task takes quite a bit of research and review of existing information. It also requires me to collaborate with others working on different parts of the project, and using my skills so that the project is actually constructed.

Then there is the fieldwork part of my job. Some days this consists of reviewing the layout of a curb and sidewalk. At other times, it means heading to the Gulf Islands to review proposed locations for a multi-use path. Each project has different requirements, so field reviews are a great way to learn from peers and contractors.

I would say that the basic goal of each day is to make my team look good!

 


How does what you do affect people’s lives?

What I do matters, because infrastructure, building and housing projects would not be able to be built unless my team is involved. We work on so many community projects. We also make repairs to aging infrastructure that may not necessarily be visible to the public. All this is critical to the functioning of society.

No one wants to have a wastewater pipe fail on them, or a water main that breaks. What I do helps to keep our community running. I also get to work on fun projects like adventure and spray parks for families! It’s a mix of work and no two projects are identical, keeping things exciting.

 


What motivates you in your career?

Besides the coffee?  My relationships would be number one.  This is a team career! I am part of a wonderful supportive group, and we are focused on completing the projects together.  We use each other’s strengths to accomplish a common goal.

I think the variety of people I get to interact with is the most interesting.  People are such a huge part of this career, and sometimes underestimated.  Building relationships is a critical skill to be a part of an engineering team.  Being able to say that you don’t know something, but you have someone available to you that does, will help you and your clients reach their goal.

I enjoy the variety in my job.  I get to blend inside and outside work, which is great for my personality.  I enjoy problem solving and helping people, which is the main part of my job.  I also enjoy the continuous learning.  There are so many opportunities to explore with the variety of projects.  I am happy to have an employer that is supportive of continuous learning and team members that are great mentors.

Personal rewards include driving by a project and saying “Hey, I worked on that!” Sharing those successes with my family is very rewarding.  Being a role model for my daughter is huge as well and this career shows her how rewarding hard work can be.

I am thrilled to be the first women President of ASTTBC and have been the recipient of a Top in Technology and Women in Technology awards.

 


How did you get to where you are today?

I had absolutely no idea I would be doing this when I was in high school. I was afraid of math and sciences! Once I realized the opportunities at the college level, I thrived. Sometimes a different learning environment really helps to get over the fear of a particular subject. I know a few engineers and techs that were not strong in math and sciences at the high school level, but who excelled at the post-secondary level.

I really enjoyed the different learning style at Camosun College and I spent three years taking courses there, as well as completing a Diploma of Architectural Drafting and Building Technology at Pacific Design Center. Then I did some distance learning with BCIT, which eventually lead me to land surveying, then engineering.

After port secondary, I worked for a land-surveying firm for 3 years before I switched to engineering. It was because I had CAD skills that I had the opportunity to work on an engineering team, which I had not done before. It was very helpful that I had a mentor who gave me the confidence to take the leap.

My husband and daughter absolutely influence my career decisions (I’ve been married for a long time!!!). When I was presented with a career change, I went to a Life Coach. I did not know the next steps I should take and this individual made me realize what was truly important to me. I then pivoted my career path to match my needs.

Challenges and failures? It’s hard to determine this. I had the challenge of being laid off multiple times with the same company to owning my own business. The home business was great while my daughter was young, but I worked 24/7. It was draining on my family and myself. I interviewed companies, after seeing a life coach, and found a company that has my values and vision. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t take the risks on my own business, so perhaps it really is a win!

I never actually thought of working in a male dominated field, it just sort of happened. The only time I really noticed was when I worked in Yukon, NWT and Nunavut because I really was the only women on the team, working remotely for weeks at a time. This meant I got my own room or cabin while working in remote communities! See my LinkedIn profile for more information.

 


What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I have an active family with an adrenaline junkie husband and a sport and music involved teen.  Relaxing usually involves gardening with my daughter, hiking and walking with hubby and dog.  I love watching my daughter play field hockey and basketball and performing in her school band.

I like fun. Bring on the skiing, camping, biking and kite boarding!  Weekends are pretty packed out here on Vancouver Island.

I am also a huge proponent of volunteering.  I have volunteered with Junior Achievement BC, Santa’s Anonymous, Girl Guides and most recently ASTTBC.  Volunteering has helped to shape my career and values.

I am looking to the future as well and I plan to join a local jazz band, once my schedule allows!

 


What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?

The opportunities are many.  Engineering is an exciting, challenging career, so start aligning yourself with people that have the same values you do.  Get out of your comfort zone! You never know what may come out of an opportunity.  Always ask questions; don’t be afraid if you don’t know the answer.  Seek out those that are knowledgeable.  Be a good problem solver.

Start as you mean to continue.  Be genuine.

 


As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?

You can support those women around you in the field.  Seek out others that have career aspirations.  Network and stay connected to your community.  Volunteer!

 


 

When I was in high school, I enjoyed…

Business & Economics

Geography

Music

 

 

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

Brought people together

Liked helping people

Enjoyed working with my hands

Was motivated by success

Wanted to be in charge

Felt at home in the outside, natural environment

Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

Learned best “by doing”

Liked to design or build things

Was a members of a musical group


 

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.

Lets Talk Science logo


#CareerDiscovery #LetsTalkScience

Erin Karaim profile image

Erin Karaim

Position: Civil Engineering Technician

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.

 


Background information:

Born:

I was born and grew up in Port Alberni, BC, Canada

Live now:

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…

Art

Geography

History

Industrial Arts / Shop Programs

Literature and English language arts

 

 

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

Liked helping people

Liked reading

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.

Lets Talk Science logo


#CareerDiscovery #LetsTalkScience

 

 

Tune in to a podcast interview with Erin Karaim, Civil Engineering Technician residing in the Vancouver Island / Coast region:

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