NEWS BEYOND OUR BORDERS
Five engineers elected in federal election
Engineers Canada - Engineers Canada recently recognized the 25 professional engineers who ran in the 2019 federal election.
The five following professional engineers were elected to Parliament:
Sukh Dhaliwal, Surrey-Newton, Liberal Party;
Omar Alghabra, Mississauga Centre, Liberal Party;
Marilyn Gladu, Sarnia-Lambton, Conservative Party;
Steven Blaney, Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis, Conservative Party;
Marc Garneau, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount, Liberal Party.
Engineers Canada looks forward to working with these members of Parliament and their colleagues to continue to advocate on behalf of the engineering profession and to bring an engineering perspective to public policy decision-making.
The representation of the engineering profession during the election spanned from coast to coast to coast and included candidates from five parties.
John Deere president blazed trail for women
Real Agriculture - A lot has changed for Debra Harrison in the past 39 years. Almost four decades ago she was the first female engineer ever hired by John Deere. Today she is president of John Deere Canada.
Harrison recently shared that journey with 450 people attending the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference at Niagara Falls, ON.
Back then, women were just starting to enter non-traditional roles and it was tough, says Harrison, who recalls being the only woman among 650 engineers at an engineering conference early in her career. She was the only woman amongst her graduating McGill University engineering class; she also recalls that there were no washrooms for women on the shop floor when she started her first job.
It was a time when women weren’t believed to be mechanically inclined, she says matter-of-factly.
“You just had to work that much harder because the first impression was that you don’t know anything about machinery and agriculture,” recalls Harrison. “Once you started that dialogue and people understood who you were and what you knew, then you started having a really fruitful conversation.”
But until she earned that respect, every time she met someone in the industry she had to prove herself. In her 39-year career with John Deere, Harrison has worked in a variety of areas, including product engineering, enterprise strategic quality and production systems, and in factory-based operations.
In 2017, she was named president of Deere’s Canadian operations where she works closely with the Canadian board of directors and key management teams and functional area leads to establish long-range goals, strategic plans and policies.
Harrison noted how the landscape for women in agriculture has changed since she entered the workforce in 1980. “Today, when I look around, I see husbands and wives working together as equal partners; I see women out in operations; I see women out in agronomy. Women have a presence today where they didn’t have a presence 39 years ago.”
Harrison believes young women entering the workforce will likely experience negativity and exclusion at some point in their career. However, she believes young women can and should prepare for these conflicts and tackle them with confidence when they arise.
Engineer receives Alberta’s highest honour
University of Alberta - Robert Burrell was touring burn units at Australian hospitals in October 2002 when victims of the Bali terrorist bombings began to arrive in emergency rooms.
Harried medical personnel invited Burrell into operating theatres at the Royal Brisbane Hospital to provide technical advice on the use of Acticoat, a silver-based wound dressing he invented. The dressing was used on the worst-injured patients, those with burns almost covering their entire bodies.
The revolutionary dressing saved lives.
It was the first commercial therapeutic application of nanotechnology in the world. Now used around the world, Acticoat has antimicrobial properties and speeds healing and is considered one of the most radical advances in wound-care history.
Acticoat uses nanocrystalline silver technology, speeding healing remarkably and fighting off infections. By his own estimate, Burrell says the dressing has saved millions of lives.
A chemical and materials engineering professor, Canada Research Chair in Nanostructured Biomaterials, and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alberta, Burrell is one of the recipients of the 2019 Alberta Order of Excellence—the highest honour the province of Alberta bestows upon its citizens.
Burrell is advancing biomedical engineering in new ways, developing a hand-held diagnostic tool to identify the type of infection in patients immediately, eliminating unnecessary antibiotic use.
Project designed to map Canada’s geology
Nature.com - Geophysicist David Eaton will head into the forests around Fort St. John, B.C. to nestle an array of 15 seismometers onto the ground.
They will spend their days listening for small earthquakes caused by oil and gas exploration in this part of British Columbia. If Eaton has his way, the seismometers will soon be joined by hundreds more, blanketing Canada as part of an unprecedented quest to probe the nation’s geology.
Eaton, of the University of Calgary, is leading a hugely ambitious effort to establish a network of geophysical observatories across Canada. The project aims to study everything from the inner Earth to the upper atmosphere — and to answer questions such as how much Canadians should worry about earthquakes and landslides, and where researchers should explore for lucrative mineral deposits or renewable energy resources.
It’s not clear how to fund the roughly $100 million that’s needed to turn these ambitions into reality. But a wide-ranging group of scientists have come together to advocate for the project, which is known as EON-ROSE (Earth-system Observing Network-Réseau d’Observation du Système Terrestre).
Website connects women with career resources
EGBC - A new website to connect women with information and resources about career development opportunities in the engineering and technology sectors is now live.
The womeninengtech.ca website is one of the first outcomes of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Project — a joint initiative of Engineers and Geoscientists BC, the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of BC.
The website features events and resources, as well as information about the project’s Champion network — an opportunity for individuals, employers, secondary schools, and post-secondary institutions to collaborate to break down barriers to women and girls accessing engineering and technology career paths in B.C.
The Sector Labour Market Partnership Project is a two-year pilot of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, designed to develop recruitment opportunities and enhance retention for women in engineering and technology sectors. The $993,000 contract for the project was announced by the Ministry in May 2019.
This funding will address priority areas such as outreach to secondary schools and post-secondary schools, and will help the participating associations develop tools to incorporate diversity and inclusive practices in the workplace, hold lunch-and-learns for employers and host virtual career fairs for Indigenous women, internationally trained individuals and persons with diverse abilities.
The funding will also help Engineers and Geoscientists BC further advance the 30 by 30 initiative, spearheaded by Engineers Canada, to increase newly registered female engineers to 30 per cent by 2030.
Program addresses gap in STEM
Engineers Canada - “One time a kid simulated a horse and wrote a code to make it gallop,” says Priyanka Tuteja. “This student did not have any robotics/coding experience. The joy of seeing a child coming to the classroom knowing nothing and going out knowing more than the instructor is mind blowing.”
This is just one of the many memorable stories from two pilot programs that the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba (LDAM) has been running this fall. One of these, the Lego Club, teaches students how to work as a team to solve a problem. The other, a robotics program, taps into the Virtual Robotics Lab run by Cogmation Robotics and First Nation Robotics. It’s designed to introduce kids to concepts in robotics and then give them hands-on coding experience.
“We saw a gap in our programming when it came to STEM,” says Karen Velthuys, who is the executive director for LDAM. “STEM programming seems to take a back seat for people with learning disabilities,” she notes, “as there is a stronger focus on literacy.”
Velthuys and her team set out to address this gap. They saw an opportunity in students’ natural gifts with technology.
“We wanted to create programming that teaches math, science, engineering and technology in an engaging and fun way,” she says. “We wanted to create programming that integrates these core subjects into a visual and tactile learning curriculum.”.
New resource for international engineering grads
Engineers Canada – October saw the launch of EngineerHere.ca, a web resource designed to help international engineering graduates understand and take the first steps towards becoming engineers in Canada. The site aims to provide key information about the journey to licensure in a clear and welcoming way and was developed in consultation with engineering regulators, subject matter experts and a group of international engineering graduates at various stages on the path to licensure in Canada.
This resource is not the first of its kind developed by Engineers Canada. In 2013, the organization launched The Roadmap to Engineering in Canada, which was developed in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Overall, this year’s work involved a refinement and modernization of the existing Roadmap site, rather than the creation of a brand-new resource.
After consulting with both the National Admissions Officials Group and an external validation group made up of volunteers, the project team agreed that a simpler, more direct name would better meet the goal of providing information in the clearest way possible. The team settled on EngineerHere.ca because it was direct, it was memorable, and it worked well from both the perspectives of mobile-friendliness and translatability across both of Canada’s official languages.