Councillor Candidate

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T. (Thomas) Tiedje, P.Eng. | Victoria, BC

I am honored to be nominated as a candidate for Council. If elected I would aim to attract more members into EGBC, particularly from the technology sector. Members are already attracted by the reputation for professional integrity that comes with being licensed. Perhaps we could provide more services tailored to their needs.

I would also like to attract more people into the professions. EGBC is engaged in outreach to schools and communicating what we do to the public. Identifying and removing barriers in order to improve equity, diversity and inclusion will help. Evolving accreditation requirements for university programs to keep up with changes in the workplace and in education will make engineering programs more appealing to a broader demographic. EGBC is co-owner of the accreditation process, with other provincial regulators.

In response to the expected requirement for continuing education in the Professional Governance Act, EGBC is looking for ways that our existing professional development can better support members. Members have provided feedback on the current system through a survey. My goal on Council would be to ensure that our system supports members in doing their jobs, that members see it as beneficial, while minimizing bureaucratic overhead. It is important to get this right. Listening to members is essential, best practices from other jurisdictions can inform our approach.

Education

Ph.D, (Physics), University of British Columbia, 1977
M.Sc. (Physics), University of British Columbia, 1975
B.A.Sc. (Engineering Science), University of Toronto, 1973

Professional History

Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Victoria, 2008–present
Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Victoria, 2008–2018
Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of British Columbia, 1987–2008
Head, Physics and Astronomy (and Engineering Physics), University of British Columbia, 1997–2002
Research Staff, Exxon Research and Engineering Co., 1977–1987

Engineers and Geoscientists BC Activities

Member, Women in Engineering and Geoscience Task Force, 2013

Related Professional Activities

Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Light Source, 2015–present
Member, Accreditation Unit Task Force, Engineers Canada, 2017–2019
Chair, North American Molecular Beam Epitaxy Conference, 2018
Chair, Deans’ Liaison Committee (on accreditation), National Council of Deans of Engineering, 2013–2018
Led establishment of Civil Engineering Department, University of Victoria, 2016

Community Involvement

Member, Advisory Board of HighTechU, 2018–present
Warden, Camp 23 Iron Ring, 2010–2018
Jury Member, Order of White Rose Scholarship, 2017
Member, Technical and Community Advisory Committee, Capital Regional District, 2013–2016

Awards and Honours

Molecular Beam Epitaxy Innovator Award, North American MBE Meeting, 2016
Applied Science Dean’s Medal of Distinction, University of British Columbia, 2016
Fellow, Canadian Academy of Engineering, 2014
Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 2001

Q&A with Candidates

Engineers and Geoscientists BC is the regulatory authority charged with protecting the public interest with respect to the practice of engineering and geoscience in the province of BC. What is the key challenge facing the association?

The key challenge facing Engineers and Geoscientists BC is managing the requirements of the Professional Governance Act. We need to convince the government and the public that self-regulation is working and that we are doing a first-rate job of protecting the public. At the same time EGBC must also convince the membership that the processes put in place for protecting the public make it easier for individual professionals to do their jobs well, without imposing bureaucratic and cost burdens that may appear to be protecting the public but are not effective in practice.

The association has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most progressive regulators in Canada but the public still expects risk mitigation to be improved, an expectation that is likely to persist.

What are the key issues facing the engineering and/or geoscience professions?

  • The Professional Governance Act will have a still-to-be-defined impact on the practice of engineering and geoscience.
  • Professionals in the resource sector tend to be more engaged with the engineering and geoscience professions than professionals in the technology sector. As the technology sector continues to expand in BC, should our association try to engage more strongly with professionals in this sector?
  • As technically educated leaders in a technological society, our professions have a special responsibility to improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Good intentions are not enough to achieve the kind of society we aspire to, we need to be proactive and find good solutions.
  • Access to the professions can and should be improved for both Canadian students and foreign trained individuals - women and men. Barriers exist in high schools, universities as well as in the public and private sectors. High standards for admission are necessary, but other types of barriers unrelated to your ability to perform as an engineer or geoscientist should be minimized. I am most familiar with the accreditation of university engineering programs in which there is room for improvement.
  • Engineers and geoscientists are critical in mitigating the effects of climate change and developing solutions that minimize environmental and climate impacts of human activity. We all need to contribute to addressing this global challenge.

Looking five years ahead, what is your vision for Engineers and Geoscientists BC as a professional regulatory body in BC?

My vision for EGBC in five years is that the members will recognize EGBC as an important partner in helping them perform quality work, in the face of unavoidable cost challenges, and they will see the benefits of membership as worth the costs.  The provincial government and the general public will appreciate the role of EGBC, will be satisfied that self-regulation is working well and that the public is protected.  Our professions will have made major progress on equity, diversity and inclusion.

For Council to achieve its goals and meet its fiduciary responsibilities, Council has identified the need for diverse voices on Council, with a blend of the following skills and competences: leadership, financial literacy, risk management, human resources, strategy, regulatory understanding, governance and technical proficiency. Please highlight the areas of strength you bring to the role.

Among other leadership positions, I have served two terms as Dean of Engineering at the University of Victoria. As Dean, I was responsible for managing the faculty’s finances and for routine and non-routine human resource issues in an organization with 130 faculty and staff.

As Dean, I was able to persuade the faculty of the merits of my strategic vision. To address the faculty’s under-enrollment, we developed new programs that attracted a broader student demographic.  In doing so we not only doubled our student enrollment but also quadrupled the number of women students, while raising admission requirements.

My technical proficiency is in the area of semiconductor materials and devices where I have published 240 articles, obtained 13 patents and received national and international awards. While serving as Dean of Engineering I gained a deep appreciation of civil engineering, biomedical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering and software engineering.

In my four years as a member of the board of the Canadian Light Source (CLS), I have gained first-hand experience with board governance and risk management, and the differing roles of the board and executive. I serve on the Human Resources and Health Safety and Environment Board Committees. As a nuclear facility the CLS is regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

As Chair of the Deans’ Liaison Committee, I worked with Engineers Canada and learned about how the provincial regulators work together at the national level.  

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