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A Community Engineer

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One of the things that is much easier to do in a smaller town is get involved in community activities. Over the past week, I’ve been able to help out with the judging of the local Elementary School Science Fair, then the School District Science Fair, as well as attend a presentation by the Selkirk College Integrated Environmental Planning Students for their concepts on the Castlegar City Council Official Community Plan.

Science Fairs

Science and Civil EngineeringI only remember going in one science fair when I was at school; my mum might remember differently, but I remember how neat my presentation was and what I did, (and that I won a prize too!). But other than that, science fairs weren’t a big feature in my schooling, which is kind of funny considering how academic the school I went to was… anyway.

I had fun at the Kinnaird Elementary Science Fair. Being a professional in a science related field gave me some credibility as a judge and allowed me to interact with the students from first grade right  though to seventh grade. The judging was pretty tough with great displays and some really solid knowledge of topics, but we were able to come to a consensus on the winners in the various age groups and categories.

As a networking event for me, I met lots of professionals from the region, and got to promote me and the company I work for to a whole new group of people. I’m glad I had the opportunity, I’ve been here for 5 weeks and I’m getting to meet so many people in some many different industries and related fields. I also met the Dean of the Castlegar Selkirk College Campus who’s keen to get me in to do some guest lecturing.

Integrated Environmental Planning

The students from the IEP course at Selkirk college have been working on different aspects of the City of Castlegar’s Official Community Plan. From walking trail extensions to waste and recycling management strategies to watershed management, these students identified and went about solving some issues that were dear to their hearts and part of forward thinking on the environment in the region.

The night was a great success with members of the community active in discussion and asking tough questions of the students. It was great to see the students able to present their concepts to the community and some members of council, and do something useful to the community as part of their course work. Too often the projects are far from the realities of communities and real life problems, but this really gave the citizens of Castlegar who were present something to think about regarding their city and the future. 

So to those who question my move from a big city to a small town, I’d like to ask them what they’ve been able to give back to the community and what events they’ve attended as a professional in their city. The opportunities are huge in small towns, have you considered moving to a small town and simplifying your life?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.