Engineering Progress: A Career Conversation

Engineering Progress: A Career Conversation

Powering a city of more than 175,00 people is a task that requires extensive planning and careful coordination, not only to ensure our grid is designed to be as resilient as possible but to ensure all of our critical systems are working together to provide first-class service to the City of Oshawa. In order to ensure we can continue to offer industry-leading reliability, we rely on the expertise provided by an adept team of engineers.

From veteran electrical engineers to talented engineers in training (EITs) that will help shape the future of electricity distribution in our province, our team has helped us build a modern, innovative utility that is prepared to power the Oshawa of the future.

In honour of National Engineering Month, we sat down with three members of our team to discuss their experience as engineering professionals in the power industry.

Who are you and what is your discipline?

Maged Yackoub (P. Eng.): Hi I’m Maged, CTO & Director Business Transformation here at Oshawa Power. I am a Computer Engineer, receiving my P. Eng. designation about 7 years ago and working in the utility industry for about 15 years.

Aiyappa Devanira Ganapathy: My name is Aiyappa, I joined Oshawa Power as a Distribution EIT late last year. I graduated from the University of Windsor in 2021, majoring in Electrical Engineering.

Amir Altaf (P. Eng., PMP): Hello, I am Amir Altaf. My background is Electrical Engineering with a specialty in Power Systems. I have been a Senior Distribution Engineer with the Oshawa Power team since the beginning of 2023 and worked in the power industry for more than a decade previously.

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?

Maged: For as long as I can remember I’ve delighted in problem-solving and designing unique solutions. The ability to innovate and continue to learn and build on previous experience to solve a wide range of problems that inevitably arise made engineering a natural outlet for me.

Aiyappa: Much like Maged, I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving and researching the different tools that can be used to find solutions. The use of logic to solve problems has always been highly intuitive to me and combined with my love of mathematics, engineering seemed like a pathway that would be highly motivating and offer the gratification and sense of accomplishment that comes with seeing my ideas come to life.

Amir: For me, I’ve always viewed engineering as a way to contribute to society and help create solutions to problems affecting all living things on our planet. The ability to design tools and techniques that help improve lives, benefit the environment, etc. is highly motivational to me. Engineering encourages analytical thinking and seeks answers to questions like what, who, and how?

How did your engineering career lead to the utilities sector?

Maged: It started very early for me with a co-op term as a developer at a local utility. Upon my graduation, this translated into a full-time job as I continued working towards my engineering credentials.

Aiyappa: Landing in the utility sector was really a happy accident for me. I also got started on a co-op term with another Ontario-based utility and returned for all my required co-op terms during my degree. This experience not only led to a full-time role after graduation but inspired a passion for the industry, both for the technical aspects that excite me and the sense of community within the sector.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?

Aiyappa: No professional challenge can compare to moving to a new country in pursuit of my career and the distance between myself and my family has been my greatest challenge. Their support and faith in me makes me want to work even harder and knowing that they take pride in my career path is something I find comfort in.

Amir: Right from the beginning, the pursuit of my Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering was a huge challenge. The amount of work and dedication that goes into our training is often more difficult than the challenges we face further along in our career. My personal goal of breaking into the Canadian public utility sector was also a huge challenge that I was proud to accomplish in 2019.

What is your proudest contribution to a project as an engineer?

Aiyappa: I take pride in every project that I’ve been a part of so far but being so early in my engineering career, I’m confident that my proudest achievements are still to come!

Amir: Delivering multiple station design, procurement, and construction projects is something I am incredibly proud of. These projects are often highly complex and allow the utility to improve reliability and contribute to the growth and resiliency of the local community.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing engineering?

Aiyappa: It is going to be hard, but don’t be daunted by the difficulty of the pursuit. There will be times where you are pushed to your limit but consistency and passion will help you overcome these challenges.

Amir: Start your pursuit with a vast scope. While you may start with one discipline in mind, by exploring Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, etc. you may find that something you didn’t expect sparks a passion in you. You will have time to specialize later on, experiencing a wide variety of disciplines will help make you a better engineer.

Maged: Learn to work hard and to document everything – your brilliant ideas, solutions, and even conversations are worth nothing in time if they are not documented properly. It isn’t always the ‘smart’ people who succeed, but those willing to put in the work and commit to continuous improvement as a way of life. Always ask yourself and others how things can be done better next time, humbly accept criticism and advice and keep trying to be the best you can be.

Lastly, no matter what, be honest and pursue truth. There is no situation in which the objective truth is not the right way forward, even if it comes at a cost to you!