No one would be happier than Catherine Karakatsanis if more young women in Canada chose engineering as a profession.
The recipient of this year’s prestigious Ontario Professional Engineers Awards (OPEA) Gold Medal, Ms. Karakatsanis says many women want careers in professions with a humanitarian and socially engaged focus, and she is confident they will find that in engineering.
“There are wonderful career opportunities for women in engineering,” she adds. “They have the capacity to gain the knowledge and skills to not only become a larger proportion of the profession, but to become leaders in the field.”
Ms. Karakatsanis points out that only about 13 per cent of members of the engineering profession in Canada are women, even though women comprise nearly half the total workforce.
“Engineering is essential in securing Canada’s health, safety and economic prosperity, and we must include the greatest possible range of knowledge, skills, experience and perspectives in the profession. That means ensuring more women are joining and staying in the profession – and leading it as well,” she adds.
Ms. Karakatsanis is regarded as a role model for aspiring women engineers and admired as a devoted advocate for creating a more diverse profession. A structural engineer by training, she is chief operating officer of Morrison Hershfield Group Inc., one of Canada’s largest engineering consultancies, overseeing operations across Canada, the U.S. and internationally.
Ms. Karakatsanis is modest about her achievements, preferring not to single out any one of her contributions as the most important.
“I started volunteering early in my career. I recall being immensely proud to be associated with the profession and keenly aware that engineering has a tremendous impact on the quality of our lives,” she says. “I simply wanted to help further the profession that I cared so much about in any way that I could.”
As a career-long volunteer trailblazer in Canadian engineering, Ms. Karakatsanis is the only engineer in Canada to have led their provincial regulator (Professional Engineers Ontario), provincial advocacy body (Ontario Society of Professional Engineers) and national organization (Engineers Canada).
Ms. Karakatsanis credits the people she has worked with over the years for much of her success.
“Looking back, I have been incredibly blessed with the meaningful, collaborative and professional experiences I have had through my volunteer work,” she says. “As an engineer, I am gratified that I helped build our company from a 100-person firm to a 1,000-person firm while maintaining our collegial, strong ethical culture and our reputation for technical excellence and professionalism.”
2017 ONTARIO PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS AWARDS gala
Since 1947, the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards (OPEA) gala has served as the province’s most prestigious and anticipated engineering event of the year. This annual affair brings together industry innovators, business leaders and policy-makers to honour and be inspired by engineering excellence and achievement.
The 2017 OPEA gala – to be held on November 18 at the Toronto Congress Centre – will celebrate the substantial impact the engineering profession has made on the development of Canada over the last 70 years. The event is proudly co-presented by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the profession’s regulatory body, and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), the profession’s advocacy association.
Today, engineers continue to lead the advancement of every facet of society, creating innovations that are launching Canada into its exciting future. From aerospace and automotive to clean technology, biomedical, mining and robotics, the innovations of engineers continue to lead Ontario’s major industries and solve society’s most pressing challenges.
PEO and OSPE congratulate the 2017 award recipients, all of whom illustrate the highest standards and ideals of the engineering profession.
For more information on the OPEA gala, please visit www.opeawards.ca.
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail’s advertising department. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.