Evan joined HH Angus in 2018, and is an Engineering Designer working with our Health Division.

Tell us your favourite thing about working at HH Angus.

This is an easy question – it is definitely the people! Within the first few months, I got this strong feeling of community and support from everyone. I found that everybody is happy to take the time to listen to any questions you have and always willing to help and to explain new design concepts. It came as no surprise to me that, within short time, you start to refer to your colleagues as your HH Angus family.  

What drew you to HH Angus and consulting coming out of school?

Consulting was an attractive option coming out of school. It allowed me to combine the technical engineering I’d been learning with some of the business-related aspects that go along with consulting, such as project management, coordination, working with clients and meeting their needs – that definitely made consulting attractive. As far as why HH Angus, the long history of the firm and the high-profile project list made it an attractive option; it was definitely a good sign to me to see all those accomplishments.

Where did you hear about the new grad openings at HH Angus?

It was through my university’s website. When I spoke with people from my program, they knew students who had done coop terms with HH Angus, and they gave the firm high reviews. So, it definitely got me excited to apply.

How do you personally contribute to design and construction here at the company? 

I started on the design side, working behind the scenes, running simple duct sizing calculations or working in CAD and building my foundation of the design knowledge that we use every day. Today, I am in a design-construction role for the Royal Inland Hospital project, living and working in Kamloops BC. I get to work with our design team and coordinate the actual design that is ongoing as we are building a hospital here. We also investigate site-related issues or as-built conditions that may need to be accommodated. I am helping with the design and coordinating with the construction, and I’m really enjoying this new role. 

So you are there working with the construction and contractors?

It has been interesting so far to see the other side of the work, which I used to see only from the design perspective. I am attending all the contractor’s meetings now, so I see a more holistic approach, where we need to not only focus on the best way to design the system but also focus on what will work for constructors, and to take that into consideration in the design process.

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

HH Angus has been a fantastic place to begin and grow my career in consulting. It has provided me with solid foundation to develop my engineering design knowledge. In addition, it has allowed me to receive a gradual introduction to those important business-related skills: whether it’s coordinating a project or liaising with the client, it’s been a great introduction to develop my fundamental technical knowledge while exposing me to some of the behind-the-scenes activities that our business is rooted in. 

What made you want to become an engineer or a designer?

My love for engineering came from my grandfather. He was a civil engineer. As I grew up and did more research, I learned that behind the engineering is finding the solution. That’s what engineering is! I found that I love to be handed challenges and then work out the solution within the unique constraints of that issue. Doing that is often challenging, but you feel rewarded after, when you are able to come up with the best possible solution. Getting to do that on a daily basis, when every day you face a new challenge or problem, that makes the work exciting.

As I grew up and did more research, I learned that behind the engineering is finding the solution. That’s what engineering is!

What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in at HH Angus?

Working here in Kamloops on the Royal Inland Hospital project blew everything else out of the water. Getting this opportunity and seeing the value that it has for society makes me proud to know that I am contributing to the overall healthcare system of the country. We are not front line workers, but knowing that the work that I am doing will contribute to people’s lives being saved, ensuring that the building operates as it should and that all the systems keep running – that makes me proud of this project.

How has HH Angus' mobility program helped you with your new role in Kamloops?

Being given the opportunity to move across the country was a dream come true for me. Combining my love for new experiences with the new responsibilities and exposure associated with this role, I knew I had to jump on this opportunity. HH Angus' mobility program helped make my cross-country move seamless, with the numerous support measures and resources that were provided. That level of support still remains to this day and it almost feels as if I still work in the Toronto office

Is what you are doing at HH Angus what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

If you were to tell me two years ago that I would be on the other side of the country working on a construction site solving all these as-built and construction issues as they arise, I definitely would not have thought it would be the case! But, in terms of daily problem solving and those things that made me want to become an engineer, I am definitely doing that and getting the opportunities to solve challenges.

Evan's life in Kamloops

What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus, aside from work?

It does not apply so much here in Kamloops, but before I transferred out here, I would say the extracurricular activities that go on throughout the company. Whether it is the Friday afternoon hockey games, softball or volleyball … I love that. I looked forward to those days every single week. It really helped me grow friendships within the company, and it just makes showing up to work that much better when you can ask someone if they are excited for the game later, or chat about upcoming events and how it went last week, or go out and enjoy a beer afterwards. I really, really enjoy that.

What’s the best thing that you’ve learned on the job?

Perseverance. We’d all like to paint our job as some walk through the park with rainbows, but we can find ourselves in difficult situations that require hard work and critical thinking to get to a solution.  I find perseverance leads to success in the end - learning to push through those tough times.

What is your proudest moment here?

The proudest moment I’ve had so far happened when I had been at HH Angus only a few months.  I was working on generator report for a client, and it had been weeks and weeks of research, report writing, formatting, and implementing client feedback. The proudest moment was at the end, after I had poured hundreds of hours into this deliverable. We got the feedback from the client on the final report and it was glowing. They were so appreciative of all our work, they loved the content, and they were happy with the depth of detail. We received high praise.  Meanwhile, I was still at an entry-level role in the company. To have received such high praise directly from the client and knowing the hard work I had put into this report, that definitely was a very proud moment and I felt really good about it.

Tell us about an experience when a senior staff helped you, maybe early on in your career.

When I started working with my manager in Tech, he was always sharing wisdom with me, whether simple design tips or how to succeed in our role as engineers, things to look out for, and also life advice. When I told him about this current opportunity in Kamloops, he told me to jump all over it, that it would be a great experience for me. Having someone who is able to share their knowledge and experience with you has been really great, and it definitely molded me into the person that I am today with the firm. Numerous times, just having good advice passed down has helped me and led to my success.

When you are out with friends who don’t work in the industry, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you start describing the company?

We design electrical and mechanical systems for various buildings, from data centers to healthcare facilities and more. But, it’s not just the work. I also describe it as this fun-loving place where it feels like everyone is just hanging out together. You are surrounded by good company and you enjoy spending the day with your work friends; a lot of people get jealous when they hear that. All the extracurriculars that we do and all the fun that I have participating in them – everyone has a hard time believing that I leave work at noon on Fridays to go play hockey for an hour and the day is done after that. Just one of the many benefits of our flex-time policy!

You are surrounded by good company and you enjoy spending the day with your work friends; a lot of people get jealous when they hear that.

What inspires you?

Being able to make a difference. Sometimes it’s hard to see the direct impact your work has on a project and it is not until the structure is being built and the building is operating that you are going to see the impact that you made. In some cases, you are just add air conditioning into the building and it goes unnoticed for most of the people. But being able to make a difference and knowing that you put hard work into these system designs, providing solutions that keep the client happy, using the latest technologies – it’s rewarding even though you may not be getting direct recognition from end users. It’s knowing that the work you are doing is having an impact; that inspires me to work harder and think a little more critically versus taking the easiest route.

What are some of the trends and tech that excite you the most?

For me, it’s the increased awareness around energy and efficient operations of our systems. For example, I didn’t realize how much thought and effort needs to go into coming up with complex design sequencing in order to run air handing units. It may not necessarily be new technology but it is utilizing new and emerging methods of energy conservation and energy recovery, and we’re discovering how to incorporate those into the design. That’s what gets me and other people on this current project excited. It is a lot of work, and you definitely have to start thinking in new creative ways. But it is exciting to help build the future and make a difference on the energy front.

What skills or trait have helped you the most to advance in your career?

Communication skills - engineering is a discipline where people understand how things work, but being able to effectively communicate your understanding and your ideas - how you see things in your head - is an important part of what we do. Having strong communication skills has definitely led to my success on projects.

Is there something people will be surprised to learn about you?

I have a big appreciation for classical music, and jazz and blues … something not popular in my age group. I have appreciation for arts, I love taking time to visit museums.  

Rita Patel joined HH Angus in 2010.

What is your favorite thing about working at HH Angus?

For me, it is the people and the interaction, and the general atmosphere in the office. It’s almost familial – everyone gets along, everyone is open, super nice and very helpful. You can walk into any VP’s office, or the President’s office, talk to them about anything, whether work-related or not. And the fact that, at least for me in my role, it is not a desk job – I get to go to site.

How do you contribute to design and construction of the built environment?

I do everything from initial concept design to detailed design, to seeing the project through construction and handover to the owner. So, all of it!

Why did you become an engineer?

I was applying to university and selecting courses, thinking the whole time that I wanted to go into some sort of bio-med or airline pilot program. But, the courses were all business courses and geographical courses – there was no math involved – and I began thinking, “I’m not going like any of this”. So, when we started picking the courses I liked, I was advised that I should be an engineer, because the courses I selected were all math related, with definitive answers and some challenges. That’s how I ended up in engineering.  So, a pilot was not what I wanted as a career after all!  I ended up doing that on the side instead.

My two mentors have taught me a lot; for example, how to behave in a meeting and how to interact with clients. They’ve always kept me involved and have helped me build client relationships.

What projects that you are most proud of?

I mainly engineer hospital renovations, and I am proud of most of those projects because they are so challenging to deliver within the space. In healthcare facilities, you can’t just go in and disrupt everyone.  The fact that we are able to do renovations in functioning operating rooms or operating theatres is great! I recall one OR project where we had to replace all the medical gases in eighteen suites over two weeks, and it went really well. I was quite nervous about that project, because it was an OR suite, so it would be very critical if anything went wrong. But, it turned out great and went exactly as planned.

You worked elsewhere before HH Angus - was that also in consulting?

No, it was in aerospace, where I was doing a lot of computational aerodynamics. I realized I wasn’t satisfied sitting at a computer doing essentially the same thing over and over. My sister was familiar with HH Angus and put me in touch with managers here, and that’s how I started working here.

So the big sell was that you wouldn’t be sitting at a desk?

Yes! Just the fact that I get to go to Sunnybrook Hospital, which is only 5 km away, made it exciting – I get to see construction, I get to see things actually getting built, which I didn’t get to do before.

Describe a typical day.

They’re never the same. Sometimes I come into the office, sometimes I go straight to a site. For me, that’s the great part – you never know what is going to happen from week to week, or even day to day. It is not a monotonous job where you just come in and do the same thing again and again.

What’s a special moment you’ve enjoyed recently?

Being promoted to Manager, Construction Services is a good one. I’m now working in both healthcare and construction. The great thing about construction is that I was already working closely with the inspectors, so it wasn’t much of a change for me. I already understood what they do, and being able to help them even more now is a good thing.

How have senior managers helped guide you?

My two mentors have taught me a lot; for example, how to behave in a meeting and how to interact with clients. They’ve always kept me involved and have helped me build client relationships. Now, they trust me with their clients. Technically, my mechanical mentor has provided the best guidance I could ever ask for. He just knows how to get things built, and he can solve any problem I have ever faced.

What advice would you give to somebody applying to work at HH Angus?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because you don’t know what you don’t know. I see younger staff, especially new grads, being hesitant to ask questions because they think they should know the answer already. But there are literally no dumb questions, and no one will judge you for asking.

What is it about design that drives you?

It’s fun! Let’s say you are renovating a space - how do we get air supply to this space? We have to figure out how we are going to do that. It’s a challenge, especially in existing facilities. And then you get to roll it out and see that it works! I like going through the entire process because you know that you did the whole thing, from start to finish. Also, because I work in the healthcare sector, it is nice knowing that you are helping people.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My other favourite line is – you don’t know what you don’t know. I see younger staff being afraid to ask questions because they think they should already know the answer. But, literally, there are no dumb questions, and no one will judge you for asking.

What trends are you excited about?

I am a member of the CSA HVAC Committee. We are constantly developing new clauses or new standards to help improve the quality of HVAC in healthcare facilities. Being part of this committee is really exciting. Also implementing those new standards; for example, providing extra air filtration for patients with immune system challenges - if you have low immunity, you need greater filtration of the air being pumped into the room. Also, implementing technology that helps reduce airborne infections. Hospitals risk many healthcare-associated infections, and we want to do all we can to minimize those risks, so we specify equipment such as copper toilet seats or UV lighting. Copper kills bacteria, so if you have a copper-infused toilet seat, airborne infectious matter in the vicinity will not survive.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I flew small planes for two or three years. It was fun, but probably gets more fun when you get to bigger planes.

What skills or traits help you most in progressing through your career?

People tell me that I am pretty efficient, and self-sufficient. If you give me something to do, I will find a way to get it done. And, most of the time, 99.9% of my work will be done on time and of good quality.

If you could change one thing how hospitals are constructed, what would it be?

I would tell hospitals to stop putting patients in buildings that are over 40 years old, where there are no HVAC systems. Regarding new builds, the biggest challenge we have is space – said every engineer ever! All the space tends to be taken up for clinical use, and mechanical/electrical infrastructure is often an afterthought. We are always struggling with service distribution.  So, I would ensure there was adequate space allowed for these essential building services.

Jessica joined HH Angus in 2017 and is a Senior Engineering Designer in our Technology Division.

What is your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

By far, it’s the sense of camaraderie and community - not only with my immediate colleagues, but between junior staff and management. Everybody genuinely cares about everybody else’s well-being, everyone is very open. It is always a positive working environment.  

What drew you to consulting engineering and to HH Angus coming out of school?

The summer before I graduated, I worked for ACML (Angus Consulting Management Limited) at the TD Centre in downtown Toronto. Many of my colleagues there told me I had done a great job and recommended that I apply to HH Angus next year. It helped get my foot into the door but also opened my eyes to consulting engineering. Seeing HH Angus in action at the TD Centre site attracted me to the company specifically, but also to consulting, because I had a clearer idea about what it is. 

How do you personally contribute to design and construction here at the company?

I am doing a lot of construction administration (CA) work for the Health Division during the (COVID-19) pandemic, which has been a rewarding way to give back to the company and my community. I also do CA on my own projects because I appreciate construction and find it interesting to see a project through from a design on paper to a completed installation in front of me.

What is Contract Administration?

The majority of it is attending site meetings and walking through the site. We take the drawings that HH Angus issues and, essentially, review and verify the contractor’s progress, and help when the contractor has questions or challenges along the way. We handle the RFIs (Requests for Information), shop drawings, examine change notices, review costs and make recommendations to the owner…just generally being a steward between the owner and the constructor.

I really like the company culture and how open people are. As someone who learns best verbally, I often walk over to someone’s desk and ask
a question.

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

This being my first job, I warrant an incredible amount of technical advice from my mentor as well as my manager. As you get onto different projects, you are exposed to different things. I always have an abundance of questions, so the answers add to my technical knowledge. I’ve worked on diverse projects and have had really good exposure to the construction industry and how it works from a trades perspective rather than from an engineering perspective. I feel that I have a better sense of what it actually takes to get that thing built that I am designing.  

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

I always liked science and math, but I disliked biology, so that took me out of the path of health sciences. In my Grade 12 Physics class, a former student made a Women in Engineering presentation – I was at an all-girls school. I remember thinking, ‘this is so interesting’ – I loved the idea of females in engineering and that push forward for woman getting into STEM and the varied career opportunities you can have with those skills. I remember thinking, “Oh, engineering… I could do that. I would be good at that! Let’s focus my energy there now”.

What HH Angus projects are you proud to have worked on?

I’m proud of the laboratory jobs that I have worked on, mostly because I have firsthand experience performing research during my undergrad at Queen’s University. Through that experience, I recognize how important a functional lab is to quality of research, and then how important research is for the greater good of society. I’m always proud that we can build the lab that meets a professor’s standards.  I’ve never had a happier client than a professor who gets to go in and start getting their hands dirty in their new lab.

Which lab projects have you worked on?

I’ve worked on a small cleanroom at the University of Toronto. And I am doing CA for a virology lab at Sunnybrook that is going to be testing Coronavirus samples so, very relevant. The state-of-the-art lab was already in development, but when the hospital saw that Coronavirus was on the rise, they designated it as a testing facility. It was all hands on deck to get the project out the door and up and running; it was unusual to see everybody from the construction team completely come together. And when the owner says something “needs to be done yesterday”, the construction team responds - no questions asked - because everybody knows how important this is.

Describe a typical day.

There really is no typical day! 50% of the week, I’m on site. When I am in the office, it’s answering emails, doing design-related work, etc. Often, I find a big chunk of my day goes towards coordination between the disciplines. I usually work on projects where we’re the Prime Consultant, so I make sure that the sub-consultants have all the information they need. I also look at their drawings and our drawings and make sure that when the package leaves the door the client receives a unified design.

Is what you are doing now at HH Angus what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

When I graduated, I thought, ‘I am a mechanical engineer, I’ll be working on mechanical things’. I didn’t realize that I’d also be working with architects to learn what an effective building envelope is, structural engineers to learn about load carrying, and even acoustic engineers. Not to mention that I work closely with our in-house electrical engineering group. I find that, because I am working with so many different disciplines, I have learned quite a bit about each segment of the industry such that I can hold a conversation with each party and understand their scope. That was a big surprise. 

What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus apart from the work itself?

I really like the company culture and how open people are. As someone who learns best verbally, I often walk over to someone’s desk and ask a question. I find that my colleagues will always take the time to sit down with me and go into an in-depth analysis so that I understand. I love that I’m comfortable doing that, which I think is unique and probably one of the things that is of the most of value. Everyone knows that the company has to put its best foot forward and one of the ways we do that is by senior team members helping junior ones.  

What is your proudest moment here?

I have two answers. One is fun: I’m super-proud that I won the HH Angus Limerick Contest this year! I’ve been trying to win for years. I’ve submitted an entry every year and I’ve always run them by my colleagues for a laugh. As nerdy as it is (and the limericks are always nerdy), I think they’re great! But this year I won and I was very proud.

My serious answer is that I am most proud that I can gain people’s respect at a meeting, despite being both young and female. I’m often the only woman in the room. When I first started, I found that the older contractors with a lot of experience would ask me a question and if I couldn’t immediately answer, I didn’t gain their respect. This would quickly become evident when they would later go over my head to someone more senior. So, I’m proud that in the meetings now I have people’s respect from the start, they come to me immediately and trust my judgment.

How did you get to that point?

It happened when I was able to demonstrate in-depth technical knowledge about my drawings. I find that when I’m meeting a contractor for the first time, they will always fire questions at me and if I can answer each one and they’re satisfied, I gain their respect for the duration of the project. So, it’s having complete knowledge of the drawings and being able to communicate that effectively. With clients, I’m good at taking something that is highly technical and explaining it in a way that people without technical training can understand. That was learned on the job… although it is a trait I also developed through tutoring in high school and university. 

Can you recall a time when a senior staff member helped you, maybe early in your career?

I have a vivid memory of being in a client meeting with my manager when he unknowingly taught me something important just by example. We knew going in that it was going to be a difficult meeting and there was some tension on both sides. My manager led the meeting and every time it started to get out of hand, he immediately deflated the situation and you could feel the tension de-escalate. I remember thinking, ‘wow, look at how he handled a difficult client so well’. Now, when I am in a meeting on my own and find myself in a similar situation, I think, ‘okay, well what would he do?’ and it helps my judgment.

Jessica, at left with colleagues

When you’re with friends who are not in the industry, what’s the first thing you tell them about HH Angus?

That we have a lot of fun! For example, I started a staff softball team with my colleagues. Or I tell them about our annual Golf Day - I’m horrible at golf, but it is always a memorable day. The office has a relaxed environment and the entire staff gets along well. I think that is largely because the company genuinely cares about their employees and work/life balance.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by seeing other females thrive in engineering. One of our young female managers in my division really inspires me, and I am happy to see a decreasing gender gap in the industry. I have been helping my mother, who is an elementary school teacher, expose her female students to things like building robots and coding. I guess, it’s just bringing more women into this field.

What are some of the trends and tech that excite you?

I love the 3D scanner and the fact that you can put goggles on and walk around a site virtually. And I love the developing field of being able to take a 3D scan and, by clicking a button, have it to go into AutoCAD or Revit. We are not quite there yet, but the technology is going that way and that’s really exciting for our industry.

Do you have any secret talents?

I love to bake bread! And being at home during the pandemic, I am experimenting with sourdough starter and making sourdough bread. I think I have made 12 loaves so far!

Akira Jones joined HH Angus in 2012.

What do you like most about working at HH Angus?

It’s the people, which I say to anyone who works elsewhere! This company has done a great job of bringing on people who are friendly and open, and this supports a very social environment. I’m happy to come to work every day, and I genuinely like the people I work with. When people ask me in social situations about my work, I always say, “It’s a great place to work!” And then my wife jumps in with, “oh, he loves his job so much!” I spend more time here then I do anywhere else, so it is really important to me that it’s a good place to work, it’s comfortable, management is great, it is open door everywhere – it’s the best!

How do you contribute to the design and construction of the built environment?

I joined HH Angus as a Revit specialist on the massive CHUM hospital project in Montreal (Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal), where I supported our team by troubleshooting issues and managing the Revit and BIM aspects of the project. Then I transitioned into project engineering, because that’s my background, and I did project engineering on CHUM and a variety of other projects, including BMO Field, which was a very enjoyable project. Then, I began doing purely BIM work and now serve as the BIM manager. My team supports all HH Angus projects on the BIM-related aspects of our projects – hardware, software, troubleshooting, process, providing interface with other consultants regarding BIM issues, etc.

Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal

BMO Field

How has HH Angus helped you grow in your career?

The company has always provided me with a lot of latitude to try new things and explore new technology. They provide all the support and training I need to do that. Being able to try new ideas allows staff to own their own growth, with the support of formal training and mentorship. I’ve had great mentorship from senior managers here, who provided so much insight and support early in my career to help me continue to progress.  When you’re starting out, getting that kind of knowledge transfer from somebody who has a lot more experience, and who is willing to take the time to pass it on and guide you through your career, that makes a big impact on all of us here.

Why did you want to become an engineer?   

As a kid, I really liked building stuff. I loved Lego and toys like that. My family also has a history of DIY renovations around the house, so I was always learning how to do things. Also, I was good at math and science and I assumed engineering would be the best option. How I got into consulting? I think it was pure luck; it could have been anything. But, I am very happy where I ended up, because now I get to do work that I am passionate about.

The company has always provided me with a lot of latitude to try new things and explore new technology. They provide all the support and training I need to do that.

What have been some significant projects for you?

CHUM, obviously – it’s probably the biggest project that I’ll ever work on! It had so many different moving parts, so many great teams. I gained so much experience – technical, project management, project administration, and so on. I came onto the project as a Revit expert and came out of it knowing even more, which is great. We had the opportunity to try many different approaches, software-wise and technology-wise, on CHUM and we were able to push the boundaries of BIM, which I thought was great.

Another significant project was BMO Field – it was a great project with an amazing team. It was a special because BMO Field is a landmark in Toronto, and we were able to contribute to making it a world-class soccer facility for professionals. That was pretty cool – a great learning experience.

Describe a typical day for you.

Much of my role is keeping my team moving, helping them with issues they need answers to. It doesn’t mean that I always know the answer, but I sometimes will offer a suggestion and say ‘try this and see if it works out’. I connect with clients; I have active projects, so I deal with issues on those projects; I work a lot on the technical and knowledge management aspects of our projects. A lot of my work is answering questions, solving challenges, and helping people to do the work they are trying to deliver – that’s a big part of being a manager.

What are some of the things you like about HH Angus, outside the technical work?

I love the social events - the Stampede Breakfast, Golf Day, the Christmas Luncheon. I love that we have a formal dinner dance for the entire staff every couple of years to celebrate our long-time employees. It really shows what is great about this company - you can see when we are all together in a social setting that everybody is smiling, everybody is having a good time, everybody is happy. That says a lot.

What are some accomplishments you’re proud of?

There are a couple of things, actually.  One is the Matterport scanner – I introduced it to the company and now it’s constantly in use. The employees enjoy it, the clients enjoy the benefits – that’s a great tool.

Another proud moment was finishing BMO Field. It was an extremely fast-paced, two-phase project that had to be delivered in time for the start of the soccer season. There was a very aggressive schedule. Everybody involved really had to step up. So, when both phases were completed, it was a very proud moment for me on behalf of HH Angus because, as a team, we came together and made that work.

How do you explain your job to someone outside the engineering industry?

I think most engineers experience this: somebody spots the engineer’s ring and says, “oh, you’re an engineer, so you must know how to do this or that.” Most people have only a vague idea about what engineers do and don’t really appreciate that we specialize across such a wide variety of engineering fields. So when I tell people what I do, I say that I use technology to facilitate the engineering work that we do, and keep it very simple so people’s eyes don’t glaze over. Because it’s somewhat complicated when you get into BIM and database-driven design, Revit models and databases and 3D visualization

Akira with his team

What are trends in engineering that excite you?

Engineering is changing. There are so many different aspects to data and Big Data, and you can already see the impact of analytics. Large construction companies are using analytics to increase their abilities, and to manage and gain information about the project; for example, safety information or construction scheduling.

We are also able to make better decisions based on the information we have. It is not only to being able to automate some of the work that we do, but also to use technology; for example, generative design.  It is not necessarily that we do the work faster, but we can do exponentially more tasks faster. A computer can generate a thousand good options on how a building could be oriented, versus engineers using our judgment and experience and saying, “well, based on my years of experience - this is the best”. Now, the computer will give you a thousand options that are better than you could ballpark.

The ability to make really good decisions about creating efficient designs is important, because a big part of what we should be thinking about is sustainability. We have a huge part to play in creating buildings that approach Net Zero, and technology can help us make better decisions sooner, so we can create those designs. I think that’s interesting. We hear a lot about AI machines, etc.  I think that’s coming, but it may be a bit further away for consulting engineers specifically; but, we certainly can automate the work that is repetitive and labour intensive.

Is artificial intelligence going to affect the human element of our industry?

It will. Every time there is a paradigm shift in how we work, people fear that - “what are the people who do this work going to do?” But, the reality is that new technology makes the pie bigger and provides opportunities for new types of work that employ more people. This means that there will be more work that is fruitful and less work that is repetitive and unstimulating. There are so many examples: people thought ATMs were going to end tellers’ jobs. However, ATMs allowed banks to open more branches, serve more customers, and actually employ more tellers. That’s a great example of how this works. So we are going to see shifts like that.    

What skills or traits have helped you advance in your career?

Persistence! Never give up, that’s the thing - you have to keep going. Never lose the will to learn something new. We are living in a time of change – you have to be able to change how you do things at any age, you have to be able to learn something new every day and never lose the urge to try something different. Also, be kind to the people around you – HH Angus is a great example of that. This place always keeps itself moving, but it is also important to take time to help somebody, because you never know when you are going to need help. 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I really like cooking! Maybe people will be surprised to know that.  And I really like taking back-country canoe trips. That’s something my wife and I have done a lot in the past and one of our favorite things to do. I also like to play Frisbee.

Philip joined HH Angus in 2006 and is currently a Senior Electric Engineer and Project Manager in our Technology Division. 

What’s your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

I like the diverse projects and diverse clients. I enjoy the work. It is satisfying to see things get built. I enjoy the travel aspect – working all over the place, different clients, different things.

Where do you travel for work?

So far, I’ve traveled around North America.

How do you personally contribute to design and construction?

I am the Lead Electrical Engineer on a number of projects, responsible for design, project management, and delivery of our design to our clients. We are often the prime consultant on projects, the head consultant. We retain an architect or a structural engineer directly,  or select them on behalf of the client. In those cases, the client retains them but we manage overall the process. We also manage the procurement of equipment and services for the client.

How has working here helped you grow in your career?

It was the first job I had out of school, so I’ve grown quite a bit in my career.

“I've enjoyed diverse opportunities being able to work on multiple projects, with multiple clients, with multiple diverse models.”

 

Why did you want to become an engineer?

I was interested in technology and, I thought it would be interesting to have a career at that field.

What project are you most proud of?

I really felt good about the Sunnybrook High Voltage Emergency Project. That was one I designed and was the Electrical Lead. It was a project where we took a completely functional hospital and rebuilt their emergency power plant without compromising emergency power to the hospital the bew plant was built within the footprint of the exisiting plant. It was a very challenging project, which involved multiple phases of construction. 

What are some of the things about the company that you really like?

I like the dedication over the years to the library collection. I thought that was pretty great. Some of the people who work in Records Management have a background in library science. The company has been dedicated to the knowledge behind engineering we have books from 20s. It speaks to the longevity of the company. Over the years, people have accumulated technical standards, books, journals and things pertinent to older systems and technologies. A lot of places don’t have a comparable knowledge base.

When you started with the company, did you have a time when a senior staff member helped you along? 

When I started, they used to pair the new grads with an inspector and send them to construction projects. I spent probably 2 to 3 weeks doing that. You got to see the practical aspects of construction which puts a lot of things in perspective when you are designing. For me, that had a lasting impact. Additionally, I was fortunate that I had some projects that went into construction when I started. They had already been designed and I was tasked with looking after the contract administration. Seeing other people’s designs, how they were being built, some of the issues that come up, was very useful.

What inspires you?

Family, friends and doing good work. 

What trends or technologies on the horizon excite you most?

I always tell younger staff, one of the best things ever invented was the digital camera. It may not seem all that great now because it is so prevalent. Also PDFs. When I started, the majority of submittals were paper. We would receive paper submittals, we would do our reviews, we would staple our reviews to them and courier it out. You’d do a large project with a wealth of information, and you would no longer have it at your fingertips because it was all on paper, which is now stored off site. But, nowadays, it’s all PDFs. You can keep a copy and everything is readily available. Same with digital cameras. Somebody can go to site and take photos of what they are working on. You’ll always have that reference to go back to later: “oh, this is what I did on the last job. Maybe it didn’t go exactly as planned – let’s do it a bit differently this time”. Today, the technology gives you accessibility that you didn’t have in the past.

What skills or traits helped you advance in your career from the new grad stage?

I always believed in making the product you are selling better in order to be more competitive. Have diverse experience. Obviously, getting licenses and certifications speak to a broader experience and broader knowledge base. When you are selling services, you want to make sure the clients understand they are paying for experience, for somebody who does this for a living. They don’t have people on staff to do the work, so they are hiring us.