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Laying the foundation for great transportation infrastructure

For over 25 years, Stantec has supported scholarships in the transportation industry through the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC). Back in the late 80s, when we were a company of just a few hundred people, we acquired Pavement Management Systems—and with them, their commitment to an annual industry scholarship.

In 2003, the TAC Foundation was created. Its mandate? To address a people shortage for the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of Canada’s transportation infrastructure. With our scholarship rolled in, we became a founding member.

Our scholarship, now named in honor of Dr. Ralph Haas—the founding father of the science of managing pavement—awards $5,000 each year to a university student studying transportation engineering. Usually, students don’t choose transportation as their focus until their third year of university, so most recipients are working on a Ph.D or Masters degree.

A few years ago, to commemorate the legacy of another Stantec employee, Dr. Frank Meyer, we started a second scholarship through the Foundation, also for $5,000.

The TAC Foundation gets over 100 scholarship applications each year. Of those, 36 people are awarded scholarships between $2,500 and $7,500. But the support doesn’t stop there. Each applicant is asked to submit their resume, and those resumes are distributed to donor companies, like Stantec. It’s a great recruiting tool, but even outside of those connections, scholarship recipients are finding opportunities.

In 2012, Transport Canada employee Mustapha Zayoun was working on his Masters in Civil Engineering (specializing in transport engineering). Mustapha’s supervisor told him about the TAC Foundation scholarships, and with her support, he applied. Mustapha received our Dr. Ralph Haas Scholarship, and, after completing his Masters degree, Mustapha started sending out resumes. Eventually, he was hired in our Red Deer office, moving from Ottawa to work with Stantec as a traffic engineer.

Today, Mustapha works out of our Edmonton office, doing exactly what he studied—exactly what he pictured his education would set him up to be.

“The Haas Scholarship helped me pay for my Masters. It’s a nice feeling, being able to contribute my knowledge to the company that supported my education,” says Mustapha.

Our very own Carl Clayton, Executive Vice President, International, serves as the TAC Foundation’s president and sits on its board of directors. When asked why the TAC Foundation scholarships were so important, he said “at one time, there was very little transportation engineering being taught in universities. The TAC Foundation is intended to address that, to support students, and to encourage them to go into fields that are of value to our Company. In the end, it also supports an important part of North America’s development—our transportation infrastructure.”

Lately, the TAC Foundation has started to expand its scope. Some contractor donors (who tend to hire more technologists than engineers) have focused their scholarships on polytechnic institutions such as the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

To promote careers in engineering—and transportation engineering in particular—students from local high schools are invited to the annual TAC Foundation conference to learn about the industry. The 2015 conference was held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

This year, Bidoura Khondakar of the University of Calgary received the 2015 Dr. Ralph Haas Scholarship. Interested in municipal opportunities and intelligent transportation systems, Bidoura’s studies are leading to a Ph.D in Transport Engineering.

The 2015 scholarship in recognition of Dr. Frank Meyer went to Salman Kamiagari of the Université Laval. As he works toward a Ph.D in International Transport, Salman is keeping in mind his interest in field and natural hazard risks.

For Carl, being on the board and being president has been special. “It’s a way for Stantec and people within Stantec to be involved in making a difference. ”One of the challenges with the average scholarship donation, he says, is that there’s a lack of personal involvement.

“We may get invited to a luncheon or get to shake somebody’s hand at a presentation. But in the case of the TAC Foundation, we get to be actively involved in the organization.”

With that involvement, we’re committed to growing the North American transport engineering community. People like Mustapha, Bidoura, and Kamiagari will maintain and improve the infrastructures that keep the rest of us traveling. 

Our very own Carl Clayton, Executive Vice President, International, serves as the TAC Foundation’s president and sits on its board of directors. 

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