Day in the Life: Alexandra – Professional Engineer, LNG Canada
- 4 min read
Most university students in Canada conduct research as part of their studies. Fewer have an opportunity to see their area of research applied by industry.
So Alexandra was “pleasantly surprised” to see blast-proof buildings—the thesis topic of her master’s degree in structural engineering—designed for LNG Canada’s plant expansion in Kitimat, in Northwest British Columbia.
“I actually got to see my research applied to a real-life situation,” says Alexandra. She earned her master’s degree four years ago from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. She previously earned an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Queen’s University, a public research university also in Kingston. (Fun fact: Elon Musk, the founder of Space X and current CEO of Tesla Motors, Inc. attended Queen’s for two years before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania.)
Alexandra joined LNG Canada in 2016, right after completing her master’s studies and was immediately immersed in their first phase of construction of their plant expansion project. The project’s scope at the time included building and operating a terminal where natural gas is liquefied), stored and loaded for offshore markets, mainly in southeast Asia, India and China.
“I was involved with the early field engineering and earthworks, including the work camp and habitat offsets, or steam diversion, and working in our contractor’s office for the detailed design of phase one,” Alexandra says.
“Right now, I am working to support the eventual addition of processing trains three and four to the plan. I am involved in the front-end engineering design work and will help put together the technical requirements and preliminary drawings that will go out for contract.”
A typical day
A typical day for Alexandra is best described as variable.
“This is an enormous project and I’ve bounced around on so many different aspects of it so far,” she says with enthusiasm. “One day I could be talking to an interior designer about paint colours inside a building, the next to a retired sea captain about marine vessel design, and the next to an interested community member at an open house in Kitimat.”
The technical requirements of her job are extensive and ever present, but she says her soft skills and people skills help her the most.
“I’m in so many meetings and you need to communicate well and have positive interactions with others to be successful,” Alexandra says.
In her earlier days on the project, she often travelled to Kitimat, a town she found “motivating”.
“One of the favourite parts of my job when I was there was going to open houses and talking to community members. I could see how positive they were about this project and the positive benefits it would bring to the community. They were excited to see it completed.”
Today, she works from LNG Canada’s Calgary offices.
I feel like I’ve signed up for the long haul with LNG Canada. Since I am currently working on expansion, I’d for sure like to be here until expansion reaches the operations phase, which is several years out. I really like working on big projects and the many work and learning opportunities they provide.
Alexandra, Master of Applied Science, Structural Engineering, Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.SC.), Civil Engineering
In for the long haul
Canada has a major opportunity to be a worldwide leader in LNG, Alexandra feels.
“We have the capacity and ability to do it responsibly,” she says. “I know at LNG Canada we’re always looking for ways to lower our greenhouse gas emissions and this is factored into our designs.”
Although the industry is relatively new, Alexandra says countries such as Australia have successfully moved LNG projects ahead.
“It’s a new industry and people need to get used to it and see how successful it can be,” she says.
Alexandra wants to be part of that success.
“I feel like I’ve signed up for the long haul with LNG Canada. Since I am currently working on expansion, I’d for sure like to be here until expansion reaches the operations phase, which is several years out. I really like working on big projects and the many work and learning opportunities they provide.”
She especially wants to expand her knowledge and understanding of the energy sector.
“As a civil engineer, I know a lot about structures, but not as much about actual LNG production and petrochemical processing. I help build these plants, now how does it all work?” she asks. “I’d like to learn about that a little more.”
$67,000 to $125,000
Master’s of Applied Science, Structural Engineering
Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.SC.), Civil Engineering
Salary, education and advancement may vary from company to company.