Women in Engineering

International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is celebrated annually on June 23. INWED aims to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available in this industry. To mark this day, Engineers and Geoscientists BC will be profiling women in engineering in British Columbia, sharing information about their careers and lives as well as sharing information about INWED events. International Women in Engineering Day is all about celebrating and learning about the great things that women engineers do.

Profiles of Women in Engineering

Jessica Steeves, P.Eng., Mine Operations Supervisor, Teck’s Highland Valley Copper Mine


How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
I lead a crew of 70 equipment operators and am responsible for ensuring we mine copper both safely and productively.
 
What drew you to your career?
Both my dad and grandfather are engineers, which helped my understanding of the profession as a child. Neither of them are mining engineers but I was drawn to the industry due to its uniqueness and the opportunity to work outside.
 
What’s one really cool thing you get to work on?
Autonomous haulage technology.
 
How does your work impact people’s lives?
Mining provides society with a variety of resources that are used in consumer products such as wiring, engines, construction materials, and cosmetics. 
 
What do you like the most about your job?
I like that every day is different. When challenges arise, I exercise my judgement and am part of a great team of people who work together to determine and implement solutions.
 
What are your future career goals?
I recently completed my MBA and I’m currently taking Spanish lessons. I hope to get some international experience as well as transition to a managerial/corporate role later in my career.
 
What is something interesting/exciting/important that people may not know about engineering?
Engineering serves as an incredible foundation for many different careers. Employers across a variety of industries will seek you out because of the problem-solving techniques you learn as part of your education.

To learn more about Jessica and her career, check out her special guest appearance with UBC Geering Up!
 

Miriam Pang, EIT, Mechanical Engineer, OSI Maritime Systems

 
How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
I use engineering simulation and 3D design software to bring military-grade software and hardware designs to life.
 
What drew you to your career?
I knew I wanted to be an engineer in high school because I was always interested in math and science and enjoyed hands-on work. I had great mentors who provided me with guidance and resources.
 
What’s one really cool thing you get to work on?
When I was working at Dynamic Attraction, I commissioned a roller coaster in Abu Dhabi. 
 
How does your work impact people’s lives?
In my current role, I build Integrated Navigation and Tactical Systems for navies around the world, enabling warship to operate in the most difficult condition.
 
What do you like the most about your job?
I love my job because I am learning from a multidisciplinary team every day.
 
What are your future career goals?
I want to become a Product Manager and I have recently completed my MBA to help gain the skills and knowledge for this role.
 
What is something interesting/exciting/important that people may not know about engineering?
Looking back, I didn’t realize how many opportunities are available with an engineering background. You can have a fruitful career in business, management, or entrepreneurship with the analytical skills you learned from school.    
 
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
A mentor gifted the three R principles for life; be Resilient, Relentless, and Receptive.

To learn more about Miriam and her career, check out her special guest appearance with UBC Geering Up!
 

Kelly McLean, P.Eng., Senior Data Scientists, PETRA Data Science


How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
I work with digital twins, which are virtual replicas of physical devices that data scientists integrate with historical data, maps and software to run simulations before actual devices are built and deployed.
 
What drew you to your career?
When I was in high school, I looked into the profession because I excelled at math and science and thought it would be a good, stable career choice.
 
How does your work impact people’s lives?
AI and data science are everywhere, even if you don’t see it.
 
What do you like the most about your job?
With software, we make a product and watch it run. Other engineers can design a product but only see it working on-site or once produced.
 
What are your future career goals?
Looking back on the past five years, I didn’t know that I would be where I am today. The field of AI and data mining is always changing. My future is open. 
 
What is something interesting/exciting/important that people may not know about engineering?
I think we take for granted the things that are so ingrained in our every day lives that engineers provide, such as technology, products, and infrastructure. 
 
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
A colleague once told me: “You have got to innovate, or you will be left behind.”

When are you most inspired?
I find inspiration working with others when we are focused on improvement. Working on the Women in Engineering and Geoscience board this year has been a great experience to be part of making changes at the grassroots level.
 

Freda Leong, P.Eng., Manager of First Nations Infrastructure, Associated Engineering


How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
I develop community-based engineering solutions for First Nations communities.
 
What drew you to your career?
I always wanted to be an engineer. My dad was a developer in Malaysia, and I use to visit him on-site. I was always fascinated by the equipment and activities taking place on-site.
 
What’s one really cool thing you get to work on?
I love being part of community meetings with our First Nations. I love meeting community members and discussing what we are doing and getting their collaboration on our projects. It’s rewarding to be involved in a project at the grassroots level.  
 
How does your work impact people’s lives?
In my work, I ensure that engineering projects meet all the needs of First Nations communities. It’s not enough to just provide technical solutions, we must also ensure that people have a voice in how our work will shape their community.
 
What do you like the most about your job?
The people.
 
What are your future career goals?
I love what I do and I’m really lucky. I would love to see more opportunities for young engineers to work with First Nations communities. I would also like to see more First Nations youth get into engineering.
 
What’s the biggest learning experience you’ve had?
Engineering school is tough so that you can respond under pressure. Our work is important because we have a huge impact on the public health and safety of the communities we work in.
 

Susan MacDougall, P.Eng., Principal, Focal Engineering


How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
I am an owner of Focal Engineering, which is an energy modelling company that helps buildings use less energy, emit fewer greenhouse gases, and be more comfortable for the people who live and work in them.
 
What drew you to your career?
In university, I decided I wanted a career in sustainability. Buildings are responsible for roughly 40 percent of greenhouse gas in Canada, so I saw an opportunity where my career could make a difference.
 
What’s one really cool thing you get to work on?
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Athletes Village.

How does your work impact people’s lives?
Reducing energy use and greenhouse gas has a positive impact on the public, the environment and future generations.

What do you like the most about your job?
I get to work alongside a fabulous team addressing an issue that we all feel is important: addressing the climate impact of buildings.

What are your future career goals?
I would like to see Focal Engineering around for the long term and see our team continue to grow and individuals develop into roles that they find enjoyable and meaningful.

What is something interesting/exciting/important that people may not know about engineering?
Engineers are problem solvers: they do their work to make things easier and more accessible and to improve peoples’ lives.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
I spent a few years focused on training for and competing in triathlons and raced with the Canadian Team as an Age Grouper at the 2012 World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland, New Zealand.

To learn more about Susan and her career, check our her special guest appearance with UBC Geering Up!