Anna Gagnon P. Eng.

Embracing Life to the Fullest

Most children have a response when asked what they want to be when they grow up.  For Anna Gagnon it was “vet or biologist.”  Many young girls envision themselves as caregivers of the animal kingdom or the environment.  And for a time, so did Anna Gagnon.

Her mom was in healthcare and her dad was a civil engineer in the pipeline industry.  Although her dad enthusiastically shared his passion for his chosen profession, during her youth it was not on her radar as a career choice.

“He was very generous with his knowledge and his explanations of what was involved, but I never really understood what engineering was,” Gagnon confessed. What was clear was that her dad’s career was meaningful and fulfilling.

Following a Father's Footprints

Gagnon enrolled in civil engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, inspired by her father and her fondness of math and physics (which came to trump her childhood attraction to animal and plant science). During a summer tree planting job, another career option emerged.  Gagnon loved being out in the rugged terrain with its challenging environment.  She was fascinated with the rock and soil formations, and the story behind the formations.  While attending her first geology course later that year, her career path was set.

Not necessarily a choice for many female engineering students in the past, things are changing. Twenty-five percent of her 2011 U of S Geological Engineer graduating class was women.  (historical rate:` 10 – 15%).  Gagnon was quick to note that she never felt a division between males and females in her chosen field of study.

Career Fast Track

In spite of a professor nudging the young grad to pursue a job after receiving her degree, she was focused on an extended break before pursuing employment. Not one to give up, he forwarded an email from J.D. Mollard and Associates (2010) Limited describing an open position at their firm.  Gagnon was familiar with the firm’s founder; they lived in the same neighborhood.

She applied for the position, was invited to an interview, and met the multi-discipline staff.  After the recruiting process was completed, Anna Gagnon was the newest member on the J.D. Mollard and Associates (2010) Limited team. And her career as a Geological Engineer was underway.  Gagnon admits that it was the right decision. She has the best of both worlds, splitting her time between field work and desktop studies.

Right Solution Not Always Popular 

When asked about her most rewarding project, she responded that the slumping issues in a Last Mountain Lake community, was a challenging undertaking.  Slumping (shifting ground) in the area had compromised the safety of the gas lines, putting the affected areas at risk of leaks and explosions.  Gagnon and other professionals worked diligently to find a solution that would protect the delivery system and the residents using it. The study delineated landslide movements and identified gas line hazards based on their orientation relative to ground movements.  In the end, this study and others led to 250 residents loosing natural gas service.

“I’m sympathetic towards those who lost service but the decision to abandon gas service insures that they are protected from a disastrous outcome in the future,” said Gagnon, “Community safety is top priority."

Seven years into her career, Gagnon already sees changes in her field.  Climate change and its global impact is driving up the demand for professionals who can identify the effects and those who can utilize that information to design solutions.  Advances in and reliance on geoscience technology could minimize or avoid problems, like those experienced at Last Mountain.

Promoter and Cheerleader

She encourages female students to consider the Geological Engineering profession. Young women with an aptitude for science and math, who enjoy the challenge of rugged outdoor field work would excel in this profession.  Also, exceptional communication skills and being able to shift gears when new evidence requires a change in direction are key.

Respected by her peers, clients, and co-workers, Anna Gagnon, P.Eng., is passionate about what she does.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and her willingness to share the rewards of her chosen profession as a Geological Engineer recruitment tool, especially for women. 

With two engineers in the family and an 18 month old toddler, Gagnon still finds time to volunteer as the Secretary-Treasurer for Regina Geotechnical Group.  She is also a Mentor to a Mother Theresa Middle School student.

Gagnon, her husband Warren and their daughter Hazel also know how to relax.  Urban cycling including round trips to and from work, disk golf at Douglas Park, skiing, sailing and relaxing at the family cabin are high on their list of favourite recreations . They are currently awaiting the arrival of an addition to their family by the end of the year.

November 2018

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