BGC celebrates International Women in Engineering Day

International Women in Engineering Day has been celebrated over the past nine years annually on June 23rd. This day is dedicated to recognizing the achievements, hard work, and perseverance of female engineers, as well as to encourage more young women to take up engineering careers. Engineering, as with other branches of STEM, is a historically male-dominated profession with women accounting for only 20% of engineers, and even less of those women being visible minorities.

Here at BGC we are committed to building an environment where women can thrive in engineering and the geosciences. Today we wanted highlight the stories and experiences of just a few of our many incredible female engineers as well as projects that BGC works on to help encourage young women to explore careers in engineering.

Renata W., M.Sc. P.Eng.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Vancouver, BC

Renata is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Vancouver office who has worked in mining and civil projects and jobsites since the late 90’s.

“I got into engineering because I liked building things and because my parents encouraged my sisters and I to do anything we wanted; gender had no impact on what we were expected to do around the house, at school, or out in the world. Although there is still work to be done with respect to inclusion and equity, I do think there has been positive change and have seen workplaces evolve from surprise or confusion at having a woman on site or in camp to having women in senior engineering roles and in positions of authority. I think it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the women who have paved the way and who worked hard to prove women can contribute and succeed in the field of engineering. My advice to young women is to take advantage of this and know that you can pursue whatever interests you; you can define how high you want to go and what kind of a difference you will make. Building a successful career will take hard work, you will need to bring passion and knowledge and there will certainly be bumps along the way but as long as you stay confident in your abilities and your right to pursue your dreams you can choose to do anything you want.”

Lauren H., M.Sc., P.Eng.
Geotechnical Engineer
Vancouver, BC

Lauren has over 10 years of experience as a Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Vancouver office. She has worked on hazard and risk mitigation projects to support local governments, developers, mining, and pipeline clients across North America

“My interest in engineering and the environment started from a young age. I was fortunate to have great female and male role models in the industry throughout my childhood and schooling. What really drew me to the profession was the opportunity to work together in teams to understand and contribute to solving problems.

The women and men who inspire me most are those who are great friends, mentors, parents, and also deeply engaged in their work. The mentor who always has their door open for a chat; the technical expert who makes time to help the next generation learn new concepts; the young parent who shows that their child’s sports game is just as important to them as their report deadline. I truly believe we are all our best selves, and the best engineers, when we put people first.”

Beatrice C-P., B.A.Sc., EIT.
Geological Engineer In-Training
Vancouver, BC

Beatrice is a Geological Engineer-in-Training based out of our Vancouver office who works on geohazard assessments and mitigation, and is currently researching shoreline erosion prediction on a hydroelectric reservoir at the University of British Columbia.

“I chose geological engineering at UBC because it was a field of engineering where I could combine my love of the natural world with science. Since beginning my career, I have discovered the exciting challenges that come with working with natural materials that are complex and different for every project. Although being a woman in a STEM field can sometimes be challenging and intimidating, I am heartened by the progress that has been made and is still being pushed for, and I am inspired by the other woman engineers and geoscientists I work with every day.”

Megan V., M.A.Sc., P.Eng.
Geotechnical Engineer
Ottawa, ON

Megan is a Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Ottawa office. She helps lead BGC’s remote sensing team, working with clients to understand the impact of geohazards on their assets, and with BGC’s software team to develop and incorporate remote sensing tools into BGC’s software projects.

“I chose a career in geotechnical engineering because of the opportunity to work on challenging projects in all parts of the world. It is a very exciting time in our industry, with new research and tools being developed at a rapid pace, and topics such as climate change and the global energy transition at the forefront of our work. In order to tackle some of the world’s most critical applied earth science challenges, we need creativity and a diverse set of skills and experiences within our teams – not only from females, but other groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in our industry. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some great female leaders at BGC and I hope to pass what I’ve learned from them onto those around me. “

Catherine Schmid, M.Sc., P.Eng.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Kamloops, BC

Catherine is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer based out of our Kamloops office who specializes in rock mechanics for the mining and transportation sectors.

“I chose this career because I have an aptitude for math and science, and love the outdoors. I knew I couldn’t spend my working life in a lab, and I was attracted to all of hands-on outdoor opportunities in geological engineering. International Women in Engineering Day is important to me because it is a time to reflect on the successes of the past, the present conditions, and the opportunities for improvement towards a more inclusive profession. I have been fortunate in my career and in my personal life to be surrounded by hard-working engineers of all genders who provided leadership and mentorship for success in this male-dominated profession. My proudest achievement was sitting on a teleconference with a client and our more senior project team planning for a second year of site investigations at a very remote project site. We had done a similar program the previous year, and I had been the field coordinator the year prior as well as the planned field coordinator for the coming season. We were brainstorming a key logistical component, and after about 10 minutes of discussion there was silence and then the camp manager asked whether I agreed. I said we had struggled last year with a similar setup, and that I felt real step-change was needed to avoid similar problems. His willingness to ask for my opinion, and the project team’s openness to listen and value my opinion, led to a significant change in operations and resulting improvements in efficiency that field season. To this day, I believe strongly that we need to open doors to all members of our teams to let them know that their opinions and contributions add value. I would advise any young woman interested in pursuing a career in engineering say ‘yes!’ to as many opportunities as possible, to lean on the advice and mentorship of family, friends, professors, and co-workers, and to find the people who build you up and take the high road against the ones who try to bring you down. This profession is full of smart, friendly, funny, and supportive people, who are looking for like-minded people to help them solve technically challenging projects. So while I chose this profession for the math, science, and outdoor opportunities, I stay because I love the people I work with and the people I work for. Come join us!”

Climate Change Workshops

Location: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Colorado, and New Brunswick

Climate change and its consequences are amongst the most critical challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. For today’s youth, these challenges will impact their careers and lives. Based on BGC-collected survey data, climate change remains an underrepresented learning objective in K-12 school curricula. As an applied earth science company, BGC is keenly aware of how climate change will impact our work and our communities and clients. We wanted to use this perspective and experience to provide meaningful climate change education and outreach to elementary and high school students.

What We Do

We aim to deliver high quality and engaging workshops that inform students on climate change themes and empower them with the knowledge to instill change. This is achieved through a combination of interactive presentations and inquiry-based activities that work through the following topics:

  • What is climate change?
  • Anthropogenic influence on the planet
  • Major climate change contributors
  • How we as individuals and as a community can help the planet

The content prepared for each topic has been purposefully made to integrate with the British Columbia k-12 school curriculum. We have worked and continue to work with BGC’s in-house climatologist to ensure that these workshops and content are consistent with current climate change research.

Contact Us

If you you’re an educator or parent and are interested in having us come to a classroom, please reach out to us at [email protected].

University team photo

University Design Projects

University team photo

Location: Canada
Partners: Queen’s University, The University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University

BGC is supporting capstone engineering design projects at several universities across Canada. Engineering students, typically in their final year of undergraduate study, work collaboratively with BGC to solve an open-ended earth science problem. BGC contributes by providing a design project idea and regular mentorship throughout the year, and students benefit from the ability to participate in real-world engineering projects under the guidance of experienced mentors. Current projects involve optimizing an open pit mining sequence, designing a tailings facility, and analyzing risk associated with landslide geohazards.

Girls in STEAM event at Telus World of Science using Microsoft Hololens

Girls and STEAM Vancouver

Girls in STEAM event at Telus World of Science using Microsoft Hololens

Location: Vancouver, Canada
Partners: Telus World of Science

Girls and STEAM is an annual event hosted by the Telus World of Science, in Vancouver, BC. This event inspires girls ages 11-13 to discover and pursue their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Design, and Math (STEAM) while learning from professional female mentors working in STEAM careers. In 2019, BGC supported this event by participating in workshop sessions under the theme of ‘mining done right’ with hands-on activities that included dam building and failure, 3D visualization using the Microsoft Hololens and 3D slope scanning, using a hand-held scanner. In 2020, BGC developed an educational video on landslides including how you can build one in your kitchen to learn about natural hazards. BGC’s participation in this event contributed to inspiring the leaders of the future to pursue careers in STEAM.

Girls in STEAM event at Telus World Of Science
Landslide susceptibility map

Landslide Mapping for the Dominican Republic (NASA)

Landslide susceptibility map

Location: Dominican Republic
Partners: NASA’s DEVELOP Program and Landslide Team

NASA’s DEVELOP Program has the mission of integrating earth observations with society to foster future innovation and cultivate the processionals of tomorrow by addressing diverse environmental impacts today. As part of this program, NASA’s DEVELOP and Landslides Team worked with the Servicio Geológico Nacional and Oficina Nacional de Meteorología of the Dominican Republic to integrate various earth observation data sets and local data to map landslide susceptibility and exposure of infrastructure in parts of the northern region. BGC supported the NASA team with providing local knowledge on geology and landslide mapping to support calibration of these models.

Bangladesh refugee camps

Landslide Hazard Assessment for Rohingya Refugee Camps (UNCHR)

Bangladesh refugee camps

Location: Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
Partners: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) administer the Rohingya refugee camps located south of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. These camps are constructed in rugged hilly terrain where the steeper slopes are prone to landslides that pose a credible risk to life for camp refugees. At the request of UNHCR, BGC Squared carried out a desktop and field assessment of landslides in the camps to develop a preliminary understanding of the landslide hazards and provide recommendations for risk management. BGC identified that landslides in the camps were nearly all, at least to some degree, a result of human activity or human alterations of the landscape. Most notably, this included the removal of vegetation, slope regrading with construction of cut and fill slopes, and disruption of natural or man-made drainage patterns. BGC recommended that landslide hazard management focus on human factors, which are controllable to some extent, and that UNHCR adopt a landslide risk management approach.