Come December 2006 I travelled to Vancouver in Canada on a one-year working visa. I found it difficult initially, especially given the time of year, but after six weeks of endless searching I landed a job with Cobalt Engineering (now known as Integral Group). The Winter Olympics were coming up and Cobalt had the contract to do the mechanical engineering on the Olympic Village.
In my interview I was asked if I wanted to do mechanical or electrical but when I replied both I was told I had to choose one or the other as their system involves two separate teams. So much for integrated design! Anyway, I choose mechanical.
Canada is officially on the metric system so I felt more comfortable units wise. However, as I soon discovered, Canada is the worst country in which to do engineering as in practice the industry uses both imperial and metric systems. This is because they are so close to the US (where imperial is used) and with whom they do a great many projects.
In meetings, units get thrown around all the time so you have to know your conversions pretty well. It’s ok now after eight years but initially it was some challenge. The British Columbia Building Code consists of two large binders and one small binder for plumbing systems only. The codes are very different and cumbersome compared to Ireland. Also, they can be different depending on the municipality. For instance, the City of Vancouver has its own building code compared to the reminder of the province, and the University of British Columbia also has its own codes.
In addition, the energy codes are complex. For rezoning, some municipalities mandate LEED Gold rating for the building. There are also two energy codes to choose from, both very different from one another so all sorts of gaming goes on to use the best code to suit a particular project.
When I started in Cobalt I was assigned … Click on This Issue on the Home Page to get the full pdf article. You can also access it on our Facebook page, and share it on Facebook via the App.