Posted by Andrew Lischuk
November 8, 2022
I’d wager that high school gym class has had a bigger impact on our careers than the average engineer, though we didn’t know it at the time.
Steve and I met in grade 10 gym class at Harry Ainlay High School. We were both athletically inclined—his main sports were basketball and volleyball, mine football and rugby — and we quickly became friendly rivals. Whether we were playing dodgeball or golfing, competing with each other brought out the best in us.
Our friendly-but-fierce competition took on a new aspect in university when we both enrolled in the University of Alberta’s engineering program and eventually selected the discipline of structural engineering.
In basic terms, structural engineering is making sure the built world doesn’t fall down. It’s a simple goal that requires some of the most complex work found in all of engineering. And with lives at stake, there’s no margin for error. Steve and I were both drawn to the field by its demanding difficulty. We find that challenges bring out the best in us, and that we bring out the best in each other.
After helping each other through four years of engineering school, Steve and I parted ways for a bit, he to earn a Master’s degree and I to get my boots dirty at Graham Construction. But a few short years later, we found ourselves reunited at Stantec when we joined the structural engineering team one year apart, after I completed my Master’s degree.
Over 10 years, our friendly rivalry reached new heights as we competed for assignments on the most challenging and exciting projects—including Edmonton Tower, Stantec Tower and Calgary Cancer Center, all of which we both had prominent roles on. After a decade of working side-by-side at Stantec, we’d come to know each other’s work habits and philosophy very well—particularly on IPD projects.
IPD stands for “integrated project delivery.” It’s an approach to creating buildings that’s less linear and segmented but more team-based than conventional methods. IPD brings all members of a project team together from the start, allowing for better communication and collaboration throughout the life of the project. It builds from there to find win-win scenarios that increase productivity, boost the quality of the final project, and reduce waste. Steve and I were both drawn to IPD because its values align with ours.
By working together as a team from the outset of IPD projects, they can be completed more efficiently and with fewer errors. IPD also allows for greater flexibility in the design process, as ideas can be easily shared and incorporated into the overall plan. And because all members of the team are involved in decision-making, there is a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for the final product.
In fact, it was through our work on IPD projects that we realized how closely our values as individuals aligned with each other. We both relish a challenge. We both believe in the power of teamwork and the importance of compassion. We’re both drawn to opportunities to use our work to inspire people, whether that’s a first-year engineering student, a client, or a member of the public. We both believe that buildings only matter to the extent that they bring people together.
Once we realized that, it was only natural to start thinking about going into business together. We moved quickly from casual conversation to making detailed plans and launched Eng-Spire together in spring of 2020. Our values have always been important to us, but since we launched our company, they’ve become even more important. We’ve attracted a group of fantastic individuals who are all truly compassionate, resilient, and driven. They’re the kind of people who make our company great.
Stay tuned–in the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing more about why Eng-Spire’s values are important to us and introduce you to some of our team members who embody them.