While working in a laboratory for Metro Vancouver, Shannon Foster discovered a whole new career option that took her back to school.
With a diploma from Camosun College under her belt, Foster began working as a civil engineering technologist.
“Technologists do design work, they do field work, they do calculations, they write reports,” Foster said. “They can be project managers for construction projects. In my mind, it is all the fun parts of engineering. And then the professional engineer will be more of a lead on the project, they will sign off on things, they take legal responsibility for the design.”
“For every engineer there is a team of technologists that are supporting them to deliver a project.”
Foster’s father is an engineer; growing up she wasn’t interested in what he did, and she didn’t know that being a technologist was an option.
“When I saw a variety of different technologists and the things that they did, that was what I wanted to be,” she said.
When her partner got a job in Revelstoke, Foster boldly approached her company and requested that she be allowed to work remotely out of Revelstoke.
“It was not something that they were immediately on board with, it took a bit of convincing and compromising,” she said.
Though she believed it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to do her role remotely, she was worried about missing those random collisions that happen in the hallway.
“Immediately I was more productive because there weren’t as many distractions, but it can be isolating,” she said.
Luckily she found the CoLab, and hasn’t worked a single day from home.
|Shannon Foster was recognized with the 2018 Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC – Leadership Award for Women in Technology on Nov. 10 at the ASTTBC Technology Awards and Recognition Celebration in Vancouver. (Submitted)|
Last month Foster was recognized with the 2018 Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC Leadership Award for Women in Technology.
“This award honours a woman who is an ASTTBC member, has distinguished herself in her field of technology and has demonstrated leadership by serving as a role model and promoting careers in technology,” said the news release.
Foster is one of very few women working as an engineering technologist.
“We are seeing increased numbers but it’s slow, really slow to increase and there is huge job opportunity right now,” she said. “I have recruiters contacting me every couple weeks, which is amazing, to be in an in-demand career.”
Upon completing her diploma, Foster got a job on the mainland, leaving behind her colleges and her network. She often found that she was the only female in her position in the company.
“You don’t have friendship and camaraderie, or mentorship because there are very few senior female technologists in organizations,” she said. “I realized this was sort of holding me back. I wanted mentorship, I wanted to see what other people were doing. I wanted to know other people that were doing the same thing as me.”
So she reached out to Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC to arrange pub nights for women working in similar careers in her city.
“The people that came out to the events were so grateful to have the opportunity to meet other female technologists,” she said.
So far Foster has hosted the events in Vancouver, New West, Surrey and Kamloops.
“ASTTBC is delighted to acknowledge Shannon’s motivation to encourage women to meet and build connections across organizations,” said Theresa McCurry, ASTTBC CEO, in a news release.
Foster hopes to continue hosting events for people in the field as well as do outreach to people finishing high school.
“There is so much opportunity for women to step up and fill these roles and in return have steady income and feel valued and contribute to community infrastructure,” she said.
|Shannon Foster works as a civil engineering technologist. Here she is pictured doing field work. (Submitted)|
Foster has worked on creating and maintaining water systems, sewer systems, drainage projects, roads and bridges.
“I do projects in remote First Nations communities all the way to a new hospital building at VGH, right in the heart of Vancouver,” she said. “There is a huge variety of work, geographically and the scale of it.”
Despite often being the only woman in the room, Foster has found support from ASTTBC as well as the company she works for.
“Being a technologist I feel empowered, I don’t feel discriminated against,” she said. “This career has given me confidence.”
Though Foster said she loves her job too much to go back to school, those graduating with an engineering technologist diploma have the option of continuing on to becoming a professional engineer. And, according to Foster, those engineers are extremely sought after.
“It’s fun to drive around the province and I will pass a site and be like ‘oh, I helped with that!’,” she said.