“It’s a difficult time for some people in various industries and we’re looking to the future and we want to focus on what we have to do to change, to be better,” says Geoff Emberley, CEO of the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL) which held its 65th conference and annual general meeting at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s on Friday.
“Engineers and geoscientists are a big part of that.”
That optimistic look into the future of the various industries in which PEGNL members work is what led to the theme of this year’s conference: On the edge of the future.
“From great companies like the Cahill Group to Marathon Gold and their exploration, to promising young students, just a tremendous optimism through the conference and I think it bodes well for our professions going forward and our province,” said Neil Cleary, chairman of the PEGNL board of directors.
One such session on Friday was from Memorial University engineering graduate Adam Keating, the project lead on the Paradigm Hyperloop, a conceptual high-speed transportation system imagined by Elon Musk.
MUN students partnered with other universities to build and test one of the levitating pods that can transport people at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
Emberley says it bodes well to see world-class work coming out of MUN, and Cleary called the session “electric.”
“It was inspiring for a lot of the professionals in the room, engineers and geoscientists, to see what our students are doing and collaboratively working with groups from the United States and across North America to develop emerging technology,” says Cleary.
There was also a discussion session around changes to the provincial government’s procurement process.
Emberley says PGENL supports the changes, and think placing more of an importance on quality as opposed to cost is crucial.
“Putting up a building like this, for example, you may cut short on some things, but the owner of the building and the public that go into it, they’re best served by a quality project at a reasonable cost.
“If you cut short on professional services, sometimes you may not achieve that. There has to be a balance.”
For the first time in more than a decade, there was a slight drop in the number of licensed professional engineers in the province — to 3,108 from 2,995 — but Emberley says it doesn’t amount to “a material decrease.”
He says Husky’s recent announcement of an extension of the White Rose oilfield, Hebron’s arrival at its destination, active mining explorations in Labrador and how Cahill Group has grown to become an international player are good for the PEGNL and the province.
“Our licenses in the past year have remained flat, which reflects that there are some people who have seen difficulties, but there are also people who are getting jobs in different sectors,” Emberley points out.
“The fact that in this difficult time we didn’t see a decline in the people we licensed is an important factor.”