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A Day in the Life of Katrine Levesque, EIT

Why did Katrine Levesque choose a career in engineering? "I was in search of a career that would continuously challenge me and demand me to think," she explains. "I also wanted to do something that would impact people's quality of life and leave a mark on the world on a larger scale than on a one-on-one basis."

It was that drive that caused Katrine to change tack from a career in Recreation Management and Community Development to becoming an engineer. "I couldn't shake the feeling that I was put on this earth to do more, and I needed to be more challenged intellectually. I decided, 'Engineering, here I come.'"

Now a Civil Engineer-in-Training, Katrine is motivated knowing the structures she works on will be around 100 years from now and impact the lives of many people - both now and in the future.

"Being an engineer is very rewarding," she says. "If you are looking for a career that will enable you to solve big problems and change the world around you, engineering is the answer."

What's your name and what to you do?

Katrine Levesque, Civil Engineer-in-Training

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Every day is completely different. I spend approximately half my time in the office where I could be drafting bridge design details on AutoCAD, reviewing contractor drawings, writing proposals to win work, reviewing submittals from contractors ensuring they are acceptable and in compliance with engineering requirements, or doing design analysis for bridges.

When I am in the field, one role I've had in the past year is construction observer which is someone who visits a construction site on behalf of the owner and provides construction updates or recommendations to the owner. Recently, I have been spending time as a Resident Engineer-in-Training on a bridge project where I assist the Contract Administrator and visit the construction site to supervise important construction activities and make sure the bridge is being built according to the design, as well as construction standards set out by the owner.

What made you decide to be an engineer?

I was in search of a career that would continuously challenge me and demand me to think. I also wanted to do something that would improve people's quality of life and leave a mark on the world on a larger scale than on a one-on-one basis.

What did the journey to your current role look like?

My journey to engineering is a unique one. Through middle school and part of high school I thought I would become an architect because I loved buildings and the legacy they have. Because I was heavily involved in everything sports growing up, I ended up completing a Bachelor's in Recreation Management and Community Development from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. I worked for about a year and could not shake this nagging feeling that I was put on this earth to do more. I needed a bigger challenge, and I needed to be challenged more intellectually. I decided, "Engineering here I come. If I don't do this now, I will always wonder 'what if...'" Enter the Engineering Access Program (ENGAP), where I joined as a Métis person. When I was accepted into the Civil Engineering program after my first year; I had found where I belonged. Fast forward four-and-a-half years and I joined an engineering consulting firm where I work in the structural group on bridge projects.

It's not uncommon to change your mind about your career path, and it can be especially difficult to make that decision right out of high school. My advice is to take the optional sciences in high school so that you have the freedom to change your mind later. In case you are reading this now and are unsure... take engineering! It's a degree that will take you down the largest variety of paths.

What's the most rewarding part of your career?

The structures we are building will be here 100 years from now and many of these projects establish connectivity for people and communities who otherwise would not have it. As a result, their quality of life, access to necessities and services are greatly improved.

What do you get out of engineering that you feel you couldn't get out of any other line of work?

A different challenge every day, the opportunity to work in a team atmosphere, and finding new and improved solutions to all kinds of problems.

Are there any books, videos, documentaries or articles you'd recommend about your profession, or about engineering or geoscience in general?

Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba sponsored a screening of the film Dream Big, which is also available on Netflix. It gives you a quick taste of some of the problems engineers are solving. One of the organizations featured is Bridges to Prosperity. They truly encapsulated the effect of connecting a community.

While the Millau Viaducts Bridge Documentary video is quite long, it is incredibly impressive. You can find it on YouTube. It's a great bridge nerd documentary but it can also give anyone an appreciation of bridge engineering and construction.

Also, one of the few films/series that has depicted the importance of our responsibility to protect the public as engineers is the recent Chernobyl series about this real catastrophe that was brought on by poor decision making and pride. Finally, Hidden Figures is an inspiring film for all ages.

What do you wish people knew about the work that you do?

That I don't do complex mathematics day in and day out. The majority of the mathematics are done by designers. A significant number of engineers are project managers which means they oversee and are responsible for the outcomes of a project or a group's output.

What would you tell someone who was looking to get into engineering or geoscience?

Being an engineer is very rewarding. If you are looking for a career that will enable you to solve big problems and change the world around you, engineering is the answer. As engineers, we are driven to constantly improve the world around us. A degree in engineering is a degree in problem solving and perseverance. Once completed, you will feel as though you can take on the world.

When you're not working, you can be found...

At a concert, watching Big Bang Theory reruns, playing hockey, cooking, or doing a craft class.