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Engineers: the world is your oyster (or crawfish)

Working for a diverse company can open the door of possibility to opportunities across the globe

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Submitted by Lyle Sweeney (Louisville, KY)

When I joined Stantec’s Oil & Gas team in Edmonton, AB in 2010, I wanted to be part of a growing company executing interesting and diverse projects. I would say without hesitation that my expectations have been exceeded. Since I joined, our Oil & Gas team has grown from 150 to more than 1,400. The growth has brought varied expertise to the team, geographic diversity, as well as increased ability to tackle larger projects. It’s been an interesting journey, taking me from leading a group of mechanical engineers, to working on a suite of large projects for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, to travelling north of the Arctic Circle. Yes, north – and more than once.

Three years later, the journey continues – now in Louisville, Kentucky. My wife, Catherine, is a veterinarian and after a few years of general practice in Edmonton, decided to specialize. Training programs for the specialization (dermatology) are only offered in a handful of locations in North America, and we knew early that we would have to move from Edmonton. Luckily, Stantec had an office in all of the metro centers where the veterinary training was offered. After engaging Stantec, I was able to transition to the Louisville office – an office that did not have an Oil & Gas presence. But that wasn’t necessarily a problem: my projects typically utilize a multi-office execution strategy, so transitioning to Louisville was relatively seamless.

I share this story because, for me, it really encapsulates the freedom, possibilities, and excitement available to you when you are fortunate enough to work at a large firm that provides services to many sectors and has a wide geographical presence. Collaboration and multi-office work are the norm and really make transfers like mine a possibility (and ultimately successful). I routinely collaborate with structural engineers and designers in Scarborough, Maine, a project manager, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer in Walnut Creek, California, and, of course, with my “alma mater” in Edmonton. All of us working together on projects that will be built in Alaska!  And while in Louisville, I’ve been able to learn about all kinds of other disciplines, like airport design, geotechnical engineering, stream restoration, water infrastructure design, and GIS to name a few.

So now, in my new home in Louisville, I not only get to continue working as project engineer for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company projects, but I’m beginning to expand my role into other projects with our Oil & Gas group throughout the United States. It’s an exciting prospect.

I’ll admit at first I was slightly anxious about relocating when Catherine learned of the residency opportunity. But as soon as the internal conversations began about where I could work and what I could do, that anxiousness quickly turned to excitement and optimism. Approaching a year after the transition, I still feel the same way.

It has also been exciting – and downright fun – to explore a new area of the world for me. I’m a fan of bluegrass music, so Nashville and the Blue Ridge Mountains are planned weekend getaways. Louisville also has a lot to offer, from the Muhammad Ali Center to the many Kentucky Derby events. My Stantec colleagues have been helpful and gracious in showing me the ropes. One of my Deep South highlights so far was a visit to our West Monroe, LA office for training and an office crawfish boil. The people were great, I learned a lot, and the crawfish were awesome!

Catherine’s residency will be complete in three years. After that, who knows where we’ll go? The Canadian prairie winters aren’t exactly beckoning. But getting through a Southern summer wasn’t a stroll in the park either. Luckily for me, whatever we decide, I know there are substantial opportunities within Stantec. Until then, I’ll enjoy the hot browns, the derby pie, and the crawfish, when I can get it.

Lyle Sweeney is a mechanical engineer based in our Louisville, KY office – for now.

I share this story because it really encapsulates the freedom, possibilities, and excitement available to you when you work at a large firm.

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