Name: Priscilla Chew
University(s) / College(s) Attended: Queen's University, University of Toronto
Education / Degree(s): B.A.Sc., M.Eng.
Current Job Title: Principal, Operations Manager
Current Employer: Purpose Building
Email: Send Email
Fun Facts About Me
Share one fun fact about yourself: I have two great kids, who are, at the time of writing this, 5 years old and 7 weeks old. My 7 week old was not napping particularly well, so I wrote most of my answers to these questions typing with one hand, and holding my baby daughter with the other!
The most inspiring engineer I know is ....... Because ........ ?: My Dad inspires me, both professionally and personally. From an engineering perspective, what I find most inspiring is his attitude of never being content with what he can and can't do today - he's always ready for the next challenge, the next learning opportunity. As engineers, we all need a habit of continuous self-improvement if we're going to continue to make the world a better place, both for us and for future generations.
Why did you choose to study engineering?: My Dad is a structural engineer, so I have been fortunate to have been exposed early on to the details in our built environment that others may not have noticed - I learned to look up and appreciate the structures all around us. I also really enjoyed the maths and sciences in school, and to this day have a constant curiosity about how our world works, as well as how we can make our world better through design. Engineering is the perfect place for me to explore that curiosity and have an impact, and so that's what I chose to study in university.
How do you apply your engineering degree to your current career?: Although I originally went to university intending to become a structural engineer like my Dad, while I was there, I learned about climate change, and how our built environment can have such a significant impact. The cross-over specifically happened for me during the summer after third year, when I had the opportunity, as part of an NSERC grant, to experimentally determine the structural properties of 'hempcrete' (concrete that contains hemp fibres in place of aggregate). As part of that, I researched the associated carbon sequestration benefits, and the opportunities to mitigate climate change - that piqued my interest, and environmental sustainability became important to me.
After graduation, I decided to focus on sustainability in the built environment, and today, work in the green buildings sector, helping building owners, developers and operators define and achieve their sustainability goals (e.g. LEED certification). My engineering background gave me the problem solving, technical and communication skills I needed to get into the field, and it was a great launch-off point for the lifelong learning and continuous improvement that will be constant through my career.
What do you love most about your career?: I love that as a sustainability consultant, I am having a real, measurable impact on our planet - I am contributing to our fight against, and adaptation to, climate change. I also love the people side of my career - as a manager, I have the opportunity to help others on our team achieve their career goals. Mentoring and coaching others brings me a lot of satisfaction.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in engineering?: Engineering is such a diverse profession, with so many different ways to specialize. There are also so many different opportunities to apply an engineering education outside of pure engineering. If you're at all unsure about where you want to take your career, I recommend taking advantage of networking events and mentorship programs as much as possible - find out as much as you can about the opportunities available to you. You may find yourself ultimately pursuing a career that is dramatically different from the one you originally envisioned, but brings you so much satisfaction.