Joanna Usselman

Although aware of the consulting engineering world at an early age because of her father’s then career as a mechanical technician, Joanna Usselman was determined to forge a different career path.  She preferred the architectural aesthetic contributions much more than what she called the “black and white” contributions of technology.

Growing up, Joanna was exposed to and multiple school electives such as drafting, computer programming, and housing and interior design, all combining to support her interest in the large buildings she perceived as representing the architectural world.

She graduated from SIAST in June, 2002, after completing three very different work terms that provided great exposure to a variety of career paths.  She and a friend then went to Europe where she saw many historical architectural feats such as the Roman colosseum, which only reinforced her goal to pursue an Architectural degree.  Unfortunately, technicalities continued to plague Joanna’s dream of completing this degree, but that did not stop her from accepting positions where she was mentored by very experienced local architects as she worked to remedy these technicalities.

During this time, Jason Mewis, a forward-thinking consulting engineer working at AMEC wanted to start his own consulting firm – Engcomp – and was working hard to building a team.  Because Joanna had worked with Jason as a summer student, her skills were recognized with an offer in February 2005 to join Engcomp to do structural drafting as a technician.

Immediately Joanna became part of the big project experience – a whole new world for her, but a world in which she thrived.  She was excited to be part of the PCS Lanigan project where she was exposed to the world of 3D design and other cutting edge technology, and was part of a larger team that offered mentors in the industrial space.

Between taking time to stay home with her first and second child, Joanna contributed to another large project at Mosaic’s Belle Plaine operations. 

Upon her full-time return to Engcomp, she became be more involved in proposals as well as leading/managing projects as it was recognized that her forte was in the small industrial projects space.  She also acknowledges that being in a smaller firm has really expanded her knowledge and experience in a short span of time because of the need to wear multiple hats when contributing to projects.  Joanna believes she is much farther ahead than some of her colleagues in larger firms where they are not necessarily exposed to the varied opportunities that she has been at Engcomp.

Her talent and dedication has been rewarded with advancement to Structural Department Manager where she takes on multiple roles.  She acts as a designer, not necessarily producing layout but rather kicking off project scope.  She leads a team of seven that involves personal support, resource planning, and ratifying professional goal planning for her team members.  She also plays an integral role in project management for small structural projects, where she could have anywhere between three and fifteen projects on the go at any one time.

Joanna admits that 15 years ago she didn’t appreciate consulting engineering’s space in the Saskatchewan economy.  She compares some of the things she did in the architectural world with the things she does today and shares that she now finds the technical “black and white” really has value in industry.  It always has a real purpose, a real solution that makes things easier for industrial clients, and effects change in the real world. She still gets excited by doing the problem-solving.  That’s the creativity she has always sought.

She also wants everyone to know that there is definitely opportunity for women in the technology and heavy industrial spaces.  It is not a common path for young women to travel, but she highly recommends that they explore it.  She has not regretted it at all!

May 7, 2019

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