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Eric Hood – The sky is your limit.

Mar 15 , 2016

National Engineering Month

Eric Hood

Eric Hood is a Senior Engineer with a Ph.D in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo. A part of the Golder team since 2008, his practice focuses on the effective management of contaminated sites. Outside of work, Eric enjoys spending time with his family, working with his wife on their tiny house, and taking the occasional flying lesson.

We sat down with Eric to learn more about his career in engineering, working with NASA, and asked him what advice he would give aspiring engineers. Here is what he had to say:

 

What kind of engineer are you, what is your focus/discipline?

By training, I am a civil engineer specializing in the assessment and management of contaminated lands. In this field, most of the work we do is driven by our clients’ need to manage the potential liability related to their properties, but in some cases it is driven by regulatory compliance. Typically, we are trying to understand the soil and groundwater conditions so that we can identify a cost-effective management strategy.

Why did you choose Engineering as your field of study?

Initially, I wanted to be a marine biologist – I suspect I was heavily influenced by the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau! However, I was also inspired by my mom’s reentry into the work force as a survey technician. At this point I realized that engineering was about applying math and science to real-world problems and building solutions. After talking to my guidance counsellor, I quickly realized that civil engineering offered very broad opportunities to work on a very wide variety of technical areas – and that it would be a good fit for me.

What has been your most exciting experience as an Engineer?

Early in my career I helped win a NASA research project which included doing a study at Launch Complex 34 at the Kennedy Space Centre. This launch site was used by NASA in the 1960’s to launch Saturn rockets for the Apollo space program, but also resulted in significant groundwater impacts. The project ended up demonstrating that using microorganisms to degrade these contaminants could be very effective and led to the publication of a paper in a prominent environmental engineering journal.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating future careers?

The great part about engineering is that it teaches the ability to effectively apply scientific principles to real-world problems, using a range of technical skills. But one piece of advice that I give to all students is also one of the most important professional skills - the ability to effectively communicate. In consulting, that means listening to your clients, understanding their business objectives, and making sure you know how the technical work you’re doing contributes to their success. Combine great technical skills with effective communication, and the sky is your limit!