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Mark Belanger finds consulting engineering a natural fit

Like most engineers, since an early age, Mark Belanger had a passion for building things. This passion led him to the construction industry, working for a number of contractors throughout high school and college. Although the work fulfilled his passion for building, he felt that he needed to challenge himself to develop his other talents, in order to contribute to society and make a difference.

One summer, as a teenager working for a contractor replacing watermains in the City of Thorold, Mark realized that a career in civil engineering would allow him to maintain his interest in construction while providing him with the opportunity to challenge himself in the conception, design, construction, and management of facilities essential to modern life.

When asked “why consulting engineering?”, Mark responds, “Consulting engineering seemed to be a natural fit for me because it allows me to work on a wide array of projects and offers many opportunities.”

Mark’s first introduction to Associated Engineering was through a referral from Joe Tonellato, who is currently the Manager of the Infrastructure Group in Ontario. Says Mark, “Joe sold me on the company’s values, reputation for providing quality to their clients, and the depth (resource) of people. I was intrigued by the company’s philosophies and values, and wanted to be part of the company.”

Since joining the company’s St. Catharines office in 1998 as a civil technologist, Mark attributes most of his success to the presence of strong mentors. One mentor in particular that provided guidance, support, and encouragement early in his career was Bill Chisholm, currently Senior Practice Leader, Water and Environmental in our Calgary office. Mark explains, “At the time, Bill was Vice-President and General Manager of the Ontario operations, and he supported me in my decision to pursue a degree in engineering technology which eventually led me to obtaining my license as a professional engineer in Ontario. Aside from the support and encouragement that I received from Bill on furthering my education, Bill provided me some valuable lessons. His approach to a design was practical and realistic and he always made me ask the question, “How is the contractor going to build this?”

Mark considers returning to school on a part time basis to pursue his degree in engineering technology, while working full time at Associated Engineering, to be one of the main contributors to his success in his career to date. He advises, “Time management and maintaining a work-life balance provided its challenges.” But the challenges have been well worth it as Mark now enjoys a full and rewarding career. Mark relates, “The opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects including roads, stormwater management systems, sanitary sewer systems, water distribution systems, pump stations, site development, and environmental investigations while assuming many different roles including lead design engineer, project manager, and lead draftsperson, as well as undertaking topographical surveys and providing site inspection services have provided me with many opportunities to learn and advance my career. Some of my project highlights include the design/build of the central compost facility in the City of Hamilton, the Avenue Road Trunk Watermain replacement project in the City of Toronto, and working in the Kelowna office on the Westbank sewer design project for Regional District of Central Okanagan. As Project Engineer, these opportunities gave me a full gamut of experience from the proposal stage to design and construction.”

When asked what philosophy he brings to projects, Mark says, “I try to be proactive, provide constant communication, take responsibility, and understand the client’s needs. In particular, I would emphasize the importance of communication. Adopting a collaborative communication approach with the project team can be rewarding and gratifying to all team members and enhances team involvement in the decision-making process.”

Outside of the office, Mark enjoys spending time with his family - wife Georgina and daughters Carli and Bree. Some of the family activities include camping, gymnastics, dance, skating, and swimming.

“When I’m not spending time with the girls, squeezing in a game of golf in the summer, or playing hockey in the winters, you will probably find me wood-working, renovating, or simply building something. I recently undertook a major renovation project to our home in Jordan Station, with much help from my father.”

As for advice to young engineers entering consulting engineering, Mark says, “Consulting engineering provides challenging work and a steep learning curve that allows young engineers to make a rewarding contribution to the quality of life and gain valuable experience. In order to achieve success, keep an open mind, work hard, and be diverse.”