March is National Engineering Month in Canada. The initiative is designed to “spark an interest in the next generation of engineering professionals and to…celebrate the role that engineers play in society. National Engineering Month celebrates the diversity of thought, opportunities, and people that make up the engineering profession, and demonstrates that there’s a place for everyone in engineering”.
We sat down with some of our Canadian engineers to find out more about them and their career choices. The obvious place to start was Tyler Golly M.Sc, P.Eng, Edmonton Office Director and Western Canada Market Lead. Tyler is based in Edmonton but works in communities across Western Canada and coast to coast to coast. He joined Toole Design in 2018… “just coming up to my three-year anniversary with the firm!”, he notes.
When did you realize engineering was going to be your career…and was there a moment, an event, or a person that made an impression on that decision?
I really liked the idea of creating things that would help people. Initially, I thought that might be through structural engineering or construction, and began university with the intention of getting into Civil Engineering. I found that structural engineering didn’t fit well with my interests after all and, while construction led to being able to see something you were a part of creating in very real and tangible ways, it didn’t quite fit either – even though I still love making things, thanks to the influence of my father and grandfather.
That led me to talking with a professor at the University of Alberta, Charles Lendzion, about other potential ideas. He used to show us beautiful bridges at the beginning of each class and emphasized the point that our role as engineers was to provide safe and functional infrastructure, but also to create beauty in the world. Charles suggested I talk with Mark Huberman who was starting a new office for transportation engineering consulting firm. I managed to get a co-op work term job with Mark and learned a tremendous amount – I was hooked because transportation engineering was this wonderful intersection of engineering, physics, and human factors (sociology, psychology) that excited me. I went off to grad school to learn more.
My interest in sustainability and creating spaces for people has always influenced my perspective and work. My mother worked at an assisted living facility and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and older relatives. Those interactions influenced my thinking about the need to provide accessible and dignified experiences for people as they move around their communities. One of my grandmothers also biked almost every day, well into her 80’s, so that also influenced how I thought about the needs for people cycling. And now that my brother has two young children, I am learning through every interaction with them about how they view the world and the needs they have related to mobility. I have been very fortunate to work for and learn from really inspiring folks in my career before joining Toole Design, including Dean Cooper, Carl Clayton, Rhonda Toohey, Audra Jones, Stephanie McCabe, Dave Thatcher, Shane Turner, Mike Smith, Olga Messinis, Darryl Mullen, Tamika Butler, and Katie Soles. All have taught me many things I use every day in my work. And I continue to learn from my Toole Design colleagues as we work to help communities create livable, safe, and accessible transportation systems.
What’s the best part of being an engineer at Toole Design?
We get to focus our time on amazing projects and work on them for communities all over Canada and the United States. That means we are constantly learning. In the past year, for example, I’ve worked on projects in communities in multiple Canadian Provinces and Territories – Newfoundland, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario – and several U.S. States. The teams in all of our offices have similar opportunities, which means our staff stay connected even when we live in different places.
The theme for National Engineering Month this year is “There’s a place for you in engineering”…what that does mean to you?
That means that engineering is open to anyone and that diversity of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds are valued and critical to our collective success in creating holistic transportation systems.
How do Toole Design’s values of Ethics, Equity, and Empathy influence your everyday work as an engineer?
This shows up in multiple ways. When looking at the design and planning side of my job, I use these values to make decisions about the recommendations that are made. Are they ethical? Are they equitable? Are they based in empathy? Have diverse opinions been heard from the community? Who hasn’t been part of the work and how might we engage those missing voices? I like the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) framing as a way to think through our technical work and apply diverse lenses to creating and evaluating recommendations.
Another part of my job is related to managing staff where we also apply the values of ethics, equity, and empathy. This includes our hiring practices, compensation packages, and benefits programs. This is not an area I have formal training in but our great HR Director and HR team are incredibly important supports for Office Directors at the company to ensure we are making decisions and creating programs and practices that are founded in these values. In doing so, our teams will better represent the communities we serve and there is fairness for our staff.
Thank you, Tyler. Next week, there’s a 50/50 chance we’ll be talking to an engineer named Ryan.