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!”

A Watershed Moment: the November 15, 2021 flood in the Coldwater River

An atmospheric river (AR) brought two days of intense rainfall to southwestern British Columbia (BC) on November 14, 2021. This rainfall resulted in extreme streamflow the following day on November 15 and extensive flooding and river planform changes in watersheds across numerous rivers in the lower Fraser River watershed, including the Coldwater River at Merritt. Numerous infrastructures, notably roads and bridges, were destroyed or inoperable. This destruction led to a near complete isolation of the Lower Mainland from road and rail access.

ARs are long, conveyor belts of warm, moist air that typically result in intense rainfall during the late fall and early winter. AR-related floods are generally larger than non-AR-related floods in coastal watersheds in BC. During the November 14, 2021 AR, the streamflow generated by rainfall was augmented by melting snow, associated with a rapid rise in temperature.

Following the November 15, 2021 flood, an urgent need emerged to estimate the peak flow of the Coldwater River to inform long-term reconstruction and mitigation efforts. In support of ongoing programs and recovery from November 15, 2021 flood, BGC was retained by several interested parties to complete hydrotechnical hazard and risk assessments and flood hazard mapping in the Coldwater River and Nicola River watersheds.

Time series of Nasa satellite images over the November 12 to 16, 2021 with Merritt, BC labels with the red pin. The Coldwater River watershed considered in this study is located upstream of Merritt.

We developed a flood frequency-magnitude relationship for the Coldwater River at Merritt by combining statistical models for AR-related and snowmelt-related peak flows. BGC’s current best estimate of the 200-year (0.5% Annual Exceedance Probability [AEP]) flood event is 445 m3/s (90% confidence interval 240 m3/s to 980 m3/s) calculated using peak flows recorded over the 1965 to 2021 period at the Coldwater River at Brookmere (08LG048) hydrometric station. To account for climate change, the peak flow distributions (AR-related and snowmelt-related) in the Coldwater River were scaled to account for the trends in rainfall-related (AR and non-AR) and snowmelt-related peak flows as projected by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC). The climate-adjusted 200-year (0.5% AEP) flood event was estimated to be 730 m3/s (400 m3/s to 1600 m3/s for the 90% confidence interval) assuming a 75-year future time horizon from present. This estimate corresponds to a 64% increase compared to the stationary case (445 m3/s).

These findings show that climate change effects are profound and will influence the design of flood protection structures, flood construction levels (FCLs), and the design of infrastructure alongside or crossing watercourses.

Click here to view a copy of the draft report for this work.

Melissa Hairabedian, M.Sc., P.Geo. (BC, ON)


Melissa is a senior hydrologist with expertise in hydrotechnical hazard identification, assessment, and management. Her interdisciplinary academic background and professional consulting experience reinforce her comprehensive set of technical skills including statistical hydrology, hydrological modelling, and climate change assessments. Melissa has experience in a wide range of climate and geographical contexts underpinning her practical professional judgement. 

Employee Spotlight – Wesley Tibbet

When Wesley was growing up in Saint John, New Brunswick, he didn’t think that he might end up in the geotechnical field. He just knew that he eventually wanted a family and a good job to support them. When it came time for him to choose a direction at the University of New Brunswick, he knew he was good at math and felt that Civil Engineering would provide a good balance of technical skills and employment opportunities.

BGC wasn’t originally on his radar, and there was a bit of luck involved in how he ended up applying.

He began his career at TerrAtlantic Engineering Limited, who were already in the process of merging with BGC, as a summer student in the Fredericton office in 2013. He later joined our one team in 2015 after completing another summer term and his undergrad. He returned to the University of New Brunswick and completed a M.Eng. in hydrogeology in 2017 and has been with us in our Fredericton office ever since.

Wesley considers himself fortunate that he’s ended up working at BGC and that he’s had a chance to work on some really interesting projects across Canada, while still being based close to home.

How long have you been with BGC and what do you do here?

I’ve been at BGC technically since 2013, but full time since 2017. Currently I am an Intermediate Geotechnical Engineer and I work on advanced soil testing in our Fredericton Lab.

How would you describe your job to a class of Kindergartners?

I crush dirt to see how strong it is.

What is your favourite thing about working at BGC?

I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing that is my favourite, it’s really the combination of the things that we do well and our desire to continually improve that makes us special. BGC’s unique way of operating as a business (our flat management structure and lack of profit centres), combined with our clear focus on high quality work and technical excellence and the fact that we are employee owned, makes this a great place to work. This kind of environment breaks down a lot of the traditional barriers you see in other companies.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to new hires at BGC?

I couldn’t narrow this down to one piece of advice. So here are a few:

Anybody can be a leader. You don’t need to have a specific personality to do high quality work or influence change.

Don’t try to fake it until you make it. I personally hate that saying. I think it’s more valuable to be honest with yourself and set realistic expectations.

Don’t be a workaholic, and if you are you going to be a workaholic, don’t expect everyone else to be one.

If you could switch jobs with someone in BGC, who would it be and why?

It’s funny, but I think I’ve already done this. Early in 2020, due to a few different factors, I was ready for a bit of a change. After a fair bit of brainstorming and exploring different options, I realized that I was interested in soil mechanics and that I happened to work in an office with a work class soil testing facility. It’s been really fulfilling to work in the lab over the past couple of years and it’s given me lots of opportunity to continue to learn and grow.

If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing, what would it be?

Lego. I’ve liked Lego from a young age and I now share that hobby with my kids, which has been a lot of fun. The problem is that you always need more, so LEGO is an easy answer for me.

What is the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?

I’m not very adventurous, so I think it has to be Heinz purple ketchup. It just seems unnatural.

What fictional place would you like to visit?

As a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wakanda, which is the fictional country where Black Panther takes place.

If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life what would it be?

With some hesitancy to admit this, Taylor Swift is my favourite artist and I can’t narrow it down to one song.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your gut and believe in yourself. I was lucky to have engineers I’ve worked with tell me this right out of school. Hard work beats skill. Even if you aren’t the smartest or most naturally skilled, you can still work hard and end up being great at whatever you choose to do.

Employee Spotlight – Kristy Ivanic

When Kristy Ivanic was looking at post-secondary education, she was originally thinking she would study to become an architect, but she decided that would be boring. She wanted something challenging so she picked civil engineering because she thought it seemed like it would be hard, she was right. After finishing her Diploma at SAIT she has spent over 20 years doing civil and structural inspections in the construction industry.

At a certain point in Kristy’s career she decided she wanted a change. She had once worked with Heather Thomas, a member of BGC’s Health & Safety Team, and Heather had previously suggested that she should consider joining BGC.

Heather thought Kristy would be a great fit here and would really enjoy working with the team. Kristy had previously dismissed this, thinking it didn’t make sense because she’s not a Geotech. But now, looking for a change, she decided to explore openings at BGC and has since discovered that Heather was right.

Outside of work Kristy enjoys travelling, fishing and spending time outdoors, and singing with a local community choir. Fun fact, she was a performing arts vocal major before pursuing engineering and is a formally trained opera singer. After years of singing in Latin she prefers to sing pop songs with her choir.

How long have you been with BGC and what do you do here?

I have been at BGC just over 2 years and I’m a Lead CQA in the Tailings Group.

How would you describe your job to a class of Kindergartners?

I work on construction sites making sure people build what they ask them to build. Or, as I told my husband the other day, I watch big trucks drive back and forth.

What is your favourite thing about working at BGC?

I like working here because of the ‘one team’ model. BGCers just embrace everybody and you have the opportunity to learn from everyone. It’s a really supportive and friendly environment.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to new hires at BGC?

Don’t let the initials behind people’s names intimidate you. There are a lot of incredibly smart and experienced people here, those with Master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s and a host of other initials that follow their names, but that doesn’t mean they are any different than anybody else. They genuinely just want to see BGC and every individual that works here, succeed regardless of background or experience level.

If you could switch jobs with someone in BGC, who would it be and why?

Lindi Braund because she does so many different things across BGC and gets to talk to everybody and learn their stories. I wouldn’t mind a week at her desk.

If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing, what would it be?

Coffee, particularly Costa Rican coffee which I became addicted to when I traveled to Costa Rica many years ago. Or maybe time, but you really need coffee to do all the things you could do if you have more time.

What is the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?

I do a lot of international travel and I try to eat something weird everywhere I go. In the Northwest Territories while working in Inuvik I ate smoked beluga whale. The part with the meat was ok but the blubber was not the best tasting.

What fictional place would you like to visit?

Hogwarts, the school in Harry Potter or the moon planet of Endor, who wouldn’t want to hang out with Ewoks?

If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life what would it be?

It’s hard to think of just one song but generally I could listen to classical music for the rest of my life. Or the original hard rock bands from the 80’s/90’s (GnR, Metallica, etc).

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your gut and believe in yourself. I was lucky to have engineers I’ve worked with tell me this right out of school. Self-doubt can be really destroying.

Recent Additions to #OneTeamOneBGC – March 2022

We’re excited about the recent addition of a few new team members to BGC. They each bring a wealth of expertise and skills to our #OneTeamOneBGC and we’re happy to introduce you to them.

BGC recently welcomed three new seniors to our team:

Micah Richey, P.E. (CO)
Civil Engineer
Golden, CO

Micah completed his degree in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University and started his career in 2006. Micah specializes in Hydrology and hydraulic modelling, inundation and dam breach modelling, and the design of hydraulic structures. He has spent most of his career on large multi-disciplinary mining and landfill projects in the United States and around the world. Most recently he has gained experience in 2-dimensional hydraulic modelling. He is a licensed professional engineer in Colorado. He is excited to join the BGC team and to learn from new challenges. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his 2 children, friends, and his dog exploring the outdoors hiking, snowboarding, fishing and live music

Mylène Sansoucy, M.Sc., P.Eng. (QC)
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Ottawa, ON

Mylène is a geotechnical engineer with 16 years of experience working as project manager and designer on diversified projects. Following her graduate studies at Laval University, she gained experience in geotechnical investigations and instrumentations applied to a wide range of projects, such as large-scale embankment work on deep sensitive clay deposits, slope stability analyses and stabilization work design. She then worked on the rock mechanics aspects for a major hydroelectric development in Quebec. She was first involved as a designer engineer and, as the project advanced in construction phases, she moved on-site and worked as supervisor for the monitoring and control of rock excavations and earth works preparation. After completing this extensive project, Mylène worked 5 years for an international consulting firm, during which she has participated in numerous projects concerning mining sites. She gained experience in tailings storage facility dams design and management, as well as mine site reclamation. Mylène is enthusiastic to join BGC Team and to participate in thoughtful projects with other Earth Sciences experts. When not at work, Mylène enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children. Besides, she always manages to make room for running long distance and competing on ultra-trail races.

Jamey Turner, M.Sc., PG
Senior Geologist
Golden, CO

Jamey grew up in Florida and Alabama and fell in love with geology as a teenager, rock climbing and rock hounding around the southeast US. Jamey is a geologist with diverse experience integrating geological, geotechnical, geohazard, and geophysical data for geoscience and engineering projects locally and internationally. His experience includes design and technical oversight of large site investigations for land, nearshore, and marine projects. Jamey’s specialties include engineering geology, 3D seismic interpretation, neotectonics, and site characterization for mining, nuclear, energy transmission, infrastructure, and water resource sectors. After graduate school, Jamey began his career at Donlin Creek, AK in 2006 and moved to Golden, CO in 2007. Outside of work, Jamey enjoys the beautiful Colorado outdoors with his wife and kids. His favorite activities are fly fishing (and untying his wife’s knots while fly fishing), climbing, skiing, mountain biking, playing guitar and mandolin, road-tripping North America, and exploring new countries.

We’re also excited to welcome Hamza Nadeem, B.Eng. (CivE), M.Sc. (GeoE), Geotechnical Engineer, to our team. He will be based out of our Vancouver, BC office.

Pipeline Geohazard Management – Elements of Success

On March 3 and 4, 2022 we were joined by more than 80 client attendees, representing 26 pipeline operators across North and South America at our 14th Annual Cambio Users Group. The theme of this year’s workshop was “Collaborating to Move our Industry Forward” with presentations and case studies highlighting many examples of operators working together to reduce geohazard risk. These User Groups encourage data and information sharing and support collectively contributing to tools and resources which benefit the entire group of operators. As part of the workshop, BGC’s Sarah Newton presented an update on our Cambio statistics and algorithms highlighting how we define success for pipeline geohazard management delivered through Cambio.  

The key elements of success include:

  • Hazard identification that efficiently identifies, documents, and prioritizes potential threats 
  • Inspection programs that are right sized – focusing resources on high-risk sites 
  • Data sharing (where available) to improve hazard management and save costs 
  • Detailed investigations that are conducted to reduce uncertainty and improve risk-based decision-making 
  • Appropriate data integration and timely communication allowing operators to undertake proactive risk reduction actions at high-risk sites 
  • Monitoring and response plans to provide enough time and information for operators to act in response to geohazard events

In partnership with our operators, our programs are currently preventing about 5 to 7 pipeline failures caused by geohazards per year and we believe we’re on track to reduce the global risk of pipeline failures caused by geohazards by >10% by 2025. Interested in finding out how we can help support your pipeline geohazard management using Cambio? Let’s talk. 

Joel Van Hove, M.Eng., P.Eng.

Pipeline Team Lead & Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Joel has more than a decade’s experience specializing in pipeline related geohazards. His work experience is focused on landslide hazards, including hazard inventory development, probabilistic hazard assessment, landslide investigation and characterization, pipeline stress assessment and landslide stabilization.

Sarah Newton, P.Eng.

Cambio Product Lead & Senior Geological Engineer

Sarah has over 11 years of experience at BGC, specializing in geohazard identification, assessment, and risk management. She has been a project manager for engineering and software projects and has field experience in diverse environments.