Manitoba’s consulting engineers are marking 40 years of history as change pushes the industry forward.
“We started our anniversary celebrations on Jan. 1 with our new 40th anniversary logo and our major celebration will be on April 10 at our awards gala. It’s also the 19th anniversary of the gala,” said Kerri Hiebert, executive director of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Manitoba (ACEC – Manitoba).
This year, Hiebert added, the awards program will concentrate on honouring past presidents of the association.
“We’ve previously focused on project awards, but this year our goal is to keep the focus on the history of ACEC – Manitoba. We’ll return focus to projects next year,” she said. “We want to celebrate the history of the people involved and the companies involved.”
The ACEC – Manitoba Awards of Excellence traditionally showcase projects in several categories including infrastructure, transportation, environmental, industrial, small projects (under $100,000), energy resource development and municipal and water technology. Lifetime achievement awards will also be part of the event, Hiebert said.
One challenge for this year’s awards, she explained, is that with a growing trend of mergers in the industry there are less companies to single out.
“The number of firms in the province has been standard for so many years and now that’s changed,” Hiebert said. “What’s happening is big firms are buying smaller firms. We count membership by firm. We had 31 firms last year and 28 firms as members this year.”
The trend is not isolated to Canada, she added, with national and international firms looking to acquire and expand local talent.
“It has a big effect on the awards, as your pool of firms that can su
bmit gets smaller,” Hiebert said.
Another trend was an increased female presence in the Manitoba engineering community, which Hiebert credited ACEC – Manitoba for contributing to through several initiatives. Technical Women in Consulting Engineering (TWICE) is a committee formed in 2013 to provide strategic consulting on diversity within the industry, specifically regarding increasing retention of women in member organizations.
“It was at the time unique to Manitoba and the committee was given an award in 2016 by ACEC-Canada,” Hiebert said.
ACEC – Manitoba also has a young professionals committee, which has had two female leaders in the past five years. Each committee head has a one year term, she said, and the first woman to run the committee was in 2015.
“We’ve now reached the point where our first batch of young professionals are aging out and being replaced with a new group,” Hiebert noted.
Founded in 1978 as the Consulting Engineers of Manitoba, ACEC – Manitoba represents the commercial interests of businesses providing professional engineering services to the public and private sector. ACEC-Manitoba’s governing body is Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, which oversees the licensing and regulation of professional engineers and professional geoscientists in the province. Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba also deals directly with all levels of government, while ACEC- Manitoba acts as an advisory board for its members.