Wave-ing to the Stars

February 9, 2024

Confession time: In high school, I wanted to grow up and design rocket ships, not tugboats. I loved space, physics, and math, so enrolling in engineering seemed challenging and fun. I almost missed the boat on an incredible 20-year journey at Robert Allan Ltd., if it hadn’t been for meeting a group of engineers who were designing, building, and racing a human-powered submarine. The award-winning team was piloted, coincidentally, by friend and Robert Allan Ltd. colleague Robin Stapleton. It was through this student team that I connected my love of being near the ocean and my career.

Before starting my engineering degree at UBC, I had very little knowledge of the marine industry, or that naval architecture and marine engineering were career choices. After that project, I registered in the Thermofluids – Naval Architecture option within Mechanical Engineering and focussed my student work placements in the marine field, including an eight-month stint at the National Research Council – Institute for Marine Dynamics (now Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering). There, I was responsible for testing and measuring the response of vortex-induced vibrations in submerged slender cylindrical structures (try saying that five times fast!)

Finally, my last work placement was at Robert Allan Ltd. Little did I know that this would become my work home for more than two decades. I’m especially grateful for the support from bright, motivated, and dedicated team members. I am proud to have been part of so many opportunities here, including:

  • Designing inland river pushboat and barge designs in South America and Canadian Coast Guard research vessels
  • Managing the mid-life refit of a cable-driven river ferry (it turned into an eight-year project)
  • Converting a tanker into a Floating Storage and Offload (FSO) unit
  • Leading our offshore wind vessel portfolio (I can go on for hours about this!)
  • And most recently, developing our methanol fuelled tugs

My enthusiasm in marine engineering has left a strong impression on my two young children, who asked to go to engineering camps this summer. I hope they shoot for the stars, and end up charting their own course, like I did. What message would you pass on to the next generation?