Cristy Solano, who worked as an engineer in the Philippines, came to Vancouver, BC in 2000 with her husband and daughter. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Bicol University College of Engineering in Legazpi City.
A scholar, she completed a post graduate program in water resources engineering at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, and earned a diploma in hydrological engineering in Delft, The Netherlands.
In the Philippines, she worked for the National Irrigation Administration as senior engineer and the Department of Energy as a senior science research specialist.
To upgrade her skills, in Canada, she took a diploma program in computer programming in Vancouver Career College. She also took AutoCAD program and GIS courses in BCIT. These skills helped her to get a job in a mining company. Eventually, she worked for BC Hydro in 2006-2008.
She went through the engineering accreditation process in BC.
Below, she shares her experience in going through the rigorous process with APEGBC (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC).
In her narrative, she shares information about what helped her, tips and advice for other immigrant engineers.
My experience of the Engineering Accreditation Process
By Cristy Solano
As an internationally trained engineer, finding a job in Canada was very challenging. Some engineering jobs fit my qualifications but required an APEGBC accreditation (PEng).
So, I did some research on the APEGBC requirements.
Despite the availability of information on the website, I still felt that I needed to talk to someone who can answer my questions. Fortunately, a friend who was also seeking PEng registration asked me to accompany her to meet with Jess Gonzalez, a PEng and a very nice person. Although I was just a tag- along, I expressed my interest in pursuing my PEng and asked him if he can be my mentor. I am very thankful for all his effort and I am so grateful to him for being my guardian angel.
Some experiences on this process are outlined below:
References: I phoned my previous managers, made introduction, explained the purpose of my request and mailed them the reference form. In my experience, waiting time was a bit of a concern. When nothing happened after several long distance calls following up on my request, I sent them a list of my duties, responsibilities and accomplishments while working under their supervision. Maybe the list or my persistence somehow refreshed their memories and got them started. (Note: the filled up reference form must be sent by the referee directly to APEGBC)
School Credentials: Communicating by telephone to the registrar of my old university was a bit of a challenge because of the cost of long distance calls and the availability of the person to talk to. So, what I did was I sent a letter request to the school registrar. In my letter, I explained the purpose of my request, the program I was enrolled in, and the year I graduated. To save time and money on follow ups, I provided a friend with a Special Power of Attorney. (Note: School credentials must be sent by the School directly to APEGBC)
Resume: I searched the internet about resume presentation tips to help me provide the reviewers a clear and succinct information about my experience. (Tip: The content of an organized resume plus a simple layout will help project a professional image to the reader.) Then, I asked my mentor to review my resume and make comments/suggestions. True enough, when I submitted my application to APEGBC in person, I got a compliment regarding my resume presentation.
Interview: I received an email from APEGBC informing me about the date, time, and the purpose of the interview. If I pass the interview, I would be exempted from taking ‘confirmatory exams’ – these are academic exams to demonstrate my knowledge of my discipline.
I was also informed that a brief (5-10 minute) oral overview of my experience would be required. I asked myself, how am I going to summarize my long list of experiences? Tough! So, I prepared a short list of highlights about my education, companies I worked with and experiences and practiced to meet the time limit. Having that structure set in my mind, I was happy to have successfully delivered my oral overview. (Tip: Just focus on the experience and knowledge. Project confidence and self-esteem.) After my oral presentation, I overcame my nervousness.
During my interview preparation, I thought of possible questions that an interviewer would ask in relation to the experience stated on my resume.
The interviewers were friendly and only asked questions based on my resume. What I learned? Don’t be scared. Just be confident.
After a week, I received an email saying I was exempted from taking confirmatory exams! This spared me from going through a series of examinations which could have been assigned by APEGBC.
To qualify for PEng, I was required to take the Law and Ethics Seminar, pass the Professional Practice Exam (PPE), and do one year of experience under the supervision of a PEng.
To pass the PPE, I reviewed the past exams (available on line for a fee) and studied the review materials from APEGBC.
Regarding finding a job in engineering, that is another story which I can share at another time.