Tetra Tech partnered with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada to support Unite to Unlock, Canada’s largest annual social change and international development conference. More than 700 delegates—both students and professionals from the engineering, social sciences, business, and international development fields—converged in Montreal, Quebec, in January 2015.

The conference focused on creating social change in five areas: adaptive public services, engineering leadership for the 21st century, inclusive food systems, small and growing businesses that deliver social value, and triple bottom line (incorporating social, economic, environmental impact) for Canadian mining companies. Participants explored frameworks and approaches in each of these thematic areas and participated in design challenges to apply this knowledge to real-life problems.

In addition to attending the conference, Tetra Tech promoted the conference using social media, including live-tweeting during the event. View the social media summary of the event here.

The conference brought together Tetra Tech staff from California, British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. Below are some highlights of their conference experiences.

Belinda Li, project engineer, helped kick off the conference, sharing the story of her journey with EWB. Her experience intertwined with the stories of other performers in the opening, creating a common story of being outraged at the status quo but hopeful that people can unite to create impact for a better world.

Belinda recently returned from two years overseas as a water and sanitation team volunteer. She facilitated a session on the concepts behind adaptive public services using case studies from her recent work in Malawi. Through facilitating and assisting with sessions, Belinda spoke to new and prospective volunteers about working overseas and what to expect in the water and sanitation sector.

Shayne Smith, vice president of government relations and business development, is the Chair of EWB Canada’s Board of Directors and a long-time EWB champion. As Chair of the Board, he led the EWB Canada Annual General Meeting. This included an organizational update, election of board members, and a session where members had an opportunity to ask tough questions about the organization and bring forward their recommendations.

Jabiz Sharifian, department manager, and Guy Chamard, project manager, gave a presentation on project management for mining projects in developing countries. This was an introductory session for students and people who work in other fields to understand the challenges and opportunities of mining projects.

Lauren Quan, Project Engineer, was part of the conference team, directing the logistics behind the scenes. She co-chaired the 2013 conference and has continued to contribute her expertise to subsequent conferences. From directing hotel staff and conference volunteers to coordinating supplies and room set-ups, she made sure the conference was a success.

Engineering Change Lab

In addition to being a conference speaker, Jabiz was Tetra Tech’s representative in the first Engineering Change Lab, launched by Engineers Canada and EWB Canada and facilitated by Reos. The lab will identify and address the challenges of the engineering profession in Canada. Leaders from 36 organizations representing leading universities, professional associations, the private sector, the public sector, and the civil society identified current defining characteristics of the profession and discussed ideas for its future.

The lab serves as an ongoing platform for collaboration to address current challenges, beginning with the following actions: developing a community of practice in engineering leadership, promoting diversity, revising the engineering curriculum to form well-rounded engineers, promoting communications within the industry and with the public, developing a youth science and engineering outreach program, and reducing barriers to admission to engineering degree programs. Jabiz will meet with other participants three to four times per year, as well as work on collaborative efforts related to the identified challenges.