Name: Shannon Hoekstra
Program: Materials Engineering
University(s) / College(s) Attended: UBC and UofT
Education / Degree(s): B.A.Sc. Materials Engineering and M.Eng. Chemical Engineering
Current Job Title: Consultant, Water Management
Current Employer: SRK Consulting
Fun Facts About Me
Share one fun fact about yourself: I was named after Shannon Falls near Squamish, B.C.
The most inspiring engineer I know is ....... Because ........ ?: This is a tough question. There are many people who inspire me everyday! I can’t think of one individual but the people who are the most inspiring to me are those that work hard, ask tough questions, and go after what they want. It can be scary to leave a job, speak up in a meeting, go back to school, choose a non-traditional engineering career path and I have friends who are doing what works best for them and what they want and it’s really inspiring.
Why did you choose to study engineering?: I choose to study engineering after I had completed two years of physics at university. I found physics was too theoretical for me, so I transferred into engineering because I knew I wanted to study something more hands-on. My impression of engineering was that it was a degree that would lead to an action-oriented career which I was really interested in.
How do you apply your engineering degree to your current career?: My Bachelor’s degree was in materials engineering, specializing in the metals processing and extraction. My Master’s degree was in chemical engineering, specializing in water technologies and process design. I now work in the mining environment sector as a water management consultant. I have the unique opportunity to use the knowledge I gained in both my degrees to help me understand the context of projects I am working on and develop a solution for clients.
What do you love most about your career?: There are two things I love the most about my career:
(1) The people I work with. I really enjoying interacting with other people and thinking out loud to solve problems. It’s much easier to do that when you work with people you trust and can be vulnerable with. I work on a team with people who value everyone’s input, no mater what your position or title is.
(2) The fact that every day is different. Engineering is about problem solving and that means that no two days are the same. It can definitely be challenging but I like the fact that I never know what new problems will arise every day I go to work - it keeps things very interesting!
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in engineering?: Make sure it is what you want to do. I went to school with many people who didn't actually want to be in engineering. They were studying it because it was expected of them, or because it was a professional degree, or because they thought they would could make a lot of money, etc. I personally believe that your career is a huge part of your life. It takes up a great deal of your time and energy so why not do something that you want to do or that you interested in.