Meet Harman Bains – Senior Engineering Designer



Harman joined HH Angus as a co-op student in 2014, was hired full-time in 2015. He is currently in the role of Senior Engineering Designer.

What do you like most about working at HH Angus?

My favourite thing is definitely people and projects. I feel like everyone is close family here – they look out for you, they don’t leave you alone, they make sure you are okay, that you are not stressed out. It’s such a great atmosphere to work in.

How do you personally contribute to the design and construction? 

When I started, like everyone else, I was doing drafting, learning design from senior engineers. Now I am at the stage where I am taking that role, where I am designing equipment, sizing equipment, making sure that our system is reliable. During construction phases, I do site inspections, making sure the contractor is following our instructions and building to our specs and drawings.

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career?

I went from a co-op student to an engineering designer to a senior engineering designer. I started in the Commercial team and eventually moved to the Technology Division. I've definitely learned so much in the past four years.

     “I use to think that university was exponential learning until I got to HH Angus – it was another whole exponential learning curve – it’s been great!

 

Why did you want to become an engineer?

I am an immigrant. I came to this country in 2005 when I was 13. I had never used a computer before. The first time I used a computer and discovered the Web, I thought ‘this is amazing – you can access so much information, you can do so many things’. From there, I got interested to know how things work. I started learning programming and then decided engineering was the path – I wanted to build technology, I wanted to help, be part of the innovation solution leading society to a whole different scenario. 

When I got to the university, I went into the electrical computer engineering program at the University of Waterloo. Engineering is so wide – I thought I am going to do everything, but you get to a point when you understand you cannot do everything. So I picked power – it was very interesting to me to see how power operates. I had a co-op at IESO where they manage credit for Ontario’s electricity. It’s amazing how every five minutes, they call and the generators have to come on because it’s a critical balancing game - you have to balance power generation with load. So, that was a lot of fun and that’s what drove me into the power industry. When I came to HH Angus for my co-op term, I worked on real engineering projects and I thought ‘wow, this is great, this is what I want to work on!’

What drew you to HH Angus and consulting engineering?

University of Waterloo has a job portal and HH Angus jobs were listed. I talked to a few people and they said HH Angus had great reputation. You go to any engineering school and everyone knows about HH Angus. I didn’t know anybody who worked here, but I did apply and got an interview. When I was in the Energy Division as a co-op student, there were people who had been with HH Angus for 30-35 years.  You hear that and think there has to be something special going on to keep people here for that long. And now, I see why people are staying.

What are some of the projects you are most proud to be involved in?

It’s a confidential project that I just finished – a big new data centre. It was a whole new experience for me. I’ve never worked on a project that big and that complex. I was there from day one to completion. It took about a year and a half; we are done with Phase 1 of construction and there are four more phases still to go. It’s a modular design that can be expanded. Completing Phase 1 was a proud moment for sure.

Once we go out to construction – it’s talking to your contractors, clarifying issues for them; receiving shop drawings; seeing what the actual equipment is going to be, based on our specs in the design phase. If there are issues on the construction site, we are resolving them, making sure that the work is in progress.

Is what you are doing today what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

It’s greater than I expected! I wasn’t exposed to mission critical projects before and was mostly working on commercial buildings. So, when power is lost – what can you do? But when I moved to the Technology Division, it’s a whole different world if you lose power for even one second; it means a lot of money for the customers, and they can’t afford that.  You get into very complex designs. It’s actually better than I expected.

Outside the technical work – what are some of the things about HH Angus that you like?

HH Angus has a good social committee, good social events. During the summer, we have a western-style ‘Stampede Breakfast’, there’s the staff golf day/activity day and, as I said – the people. The people here are just amazing. You can talk to senior people anytime – for example, I’ve been talking to Harry [Angus – CEO]). He is such a great guy, he’ll meet you in the hallway and say hello; it’s a family atmosphere and people are there for you and we have fun while working.

Do you have an experience of senior staff members helping you along the way if you are stuck on something?

It still happens. I always go to Ross [Secord, Senior Engineer/Manager] or Rod [Mons, Division Director] for advice.  For example, I am working on a generator feasibility study and we need a load estimate for the client’s future needs as well as current needs, and have to identify the optimal generator size that will suit their needs. I reached out to Ross and Rod to guide me as this is something I’ve never worked on before. So, they are always there helping.

What advice would you give to someone applying here?

       “It's a great place to learn and, if you are serious about engineering work and making progress in your career, this is the place to be. It's a great atmosphere. People are very supportive.”

 

You will learn from people who’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years. There is a wide variety of project types: you can do something in commercial; if you want to do something in healthcare, you can go to the Healthcare team. If you want to work in the mission critical sector, you can come to the Technology Division. For big energy projects, you can go to our Energy team.  For IMIT strategy and design, there’s the Angus Connect Division. So, there is diversity for the work you want to do, there is diversity among the people. There is always support, help. You just need to be willing to put in the time and effort and learn and to perform at your job.

What aspect of the job do you enjoy the most ?

What I enjoy the most is reliability assessment. I learned it from my manager – the system, the single line topologies, and how reliable the system is, looking at the overall design and how it fits in the whole standard. That’s what I enjoy most right now.

What are some trends in technology, things that you know are on the horizon, that you feel excited about?

We have been working on a proposal for a client and we were talking to them about our 3D scanner. I haven’t personally used it yet, so I am very excited to see it in action. The whole 3D scanning process and Revit model is just amazing; we used to draw things in 2D and it was hard to visualize what it was going to look like. Engineers are not known for having the ability to visualize like architects do! And it’s amazing how, with the Revit model, I can see a design in 3D. Now, we also have a 3D scanner that we use to scan an actual room and then put it into the Revit model in 3D.  This is amazing stuff!  So, there is a lot of new technology coming in, the whole BIM technology – it is going to be great. 

Do you have any secret talents?

Unfortunately, I don’t, but I love watching sports - major league baseball when the Blue Jays are doing well. I also enjoy basketball and soccer. Sports is another thing I talk to people about here. There are a lot of fans, so it’s easy to get along with people when you are talking sports.

What is your dream vacation destination?

My dream would be Rome, Italy. I am very interested in historical architecture and I think Rome and Vatican would be the places to go.