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Michaella Chemello

Engineer in Training (Civil)
Fluor Canada Ltd.
Michaella Chemello cuisinant et servant des crêpes au Stampede de Calgary

Michaella Chemello cooking and serving pancakes at the Calgary Stampede

Michaella Chemello cuisinant et servant des crêpes au Stampede de Calgary

Michaella Chemello cooking and serving pancakes at the Calgary Stampede

Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I am a Civil/Structural Engineer-In-Training at Fluor Canada.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born and grew up in Edmonton, Alberta.

I now live in: Calgary, Alberta.

I completed my training/education at: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta.

What I do at work

Once I’m on a project, I always start off by identifying the forces that will cause stress on the structure. These forces are called loads. Two of the different loads that I consider include what we call “dead loads” and “live loads”. Dead loads include anything static in the structure, such as the weight of the steel or the roof. Live loads are the moving loads in the structure such as people. Other sources of stress include wind loads, rain loads, pipe loads and seismic/earthquake loads.

Once my loads are developed and I’ve developed a model of the structure in our analysis software, I work on designing the foundations.  These foundations can be slabs or piles. A slab is used to create flat horizontal surfaces such as floors, roof decks and ceilings. It is normally made of concrete and is on or above the ground. Piles are long structures, in the shape of a cylinder. They can be made from concrete or steel and go below the ground surface in order to put other structures on top of them.

Next, I determine the size, shape and length of the steel required. I also look at the connection between the structural columns and the foundations as well as the steel to steel connections.

Quite often, I will be working with a Designer. The Designer develops drawings of the foundation and steel structure, which results in the deliverable to our Client. Since the structures we design are usually to support something, I have to interact with other disciplines such as the Electrical team, or Piping Stress team to see if my structure will support their needs.

After graduating University with a degree in engineering, you do not become a Professional Engineer (or P.Eng.) right away. Since engineering is a highly technical and skilled profession, you are required to complete a minimum of 48 months of work experience under a P.Eng. before I can become a P.Eng. myself. Currently, I am still working towards fulfilling my 48 months of work experience as an Engineer-In-Training at Fluor Canada. All of my work must be checked and stamped by the P.Eng. I am working under. This person is also there to answer any questions I have.

Check out this video I made that takes you through my day (while working from home). It also will give you a bit more insight into what a Structural Engineer-In-Training does.

My career path is

Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, specifically a high school math and science teacher, because I was good in math and science. It wasn’t until my grade 11 year that I started on a different path, took a leap of faith and participated in an outreach program. In this program, I did research in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alberta.

It was during this summer that I decided to study engineering in University. Before this experience, I really had no connection to engineering. I didn’t even know what engineering was, but I knew that I’ve always loved helping people. As I went into my first year of engineering, I had my heart set on doing biomedical engineering. However, after taking a few classes in first year, I realized my passion was in civil engineering and decided to pursue civil engineering instead. I’ve loved every minute of it since!

I am motivated by

There are two things that I love about my job. The first is that every day I have the opportunity to learn something new. The second is all of the amazing Engineers that I am able to work with who are willing to teach me something new. I’ve learned that the people you choose to surround yourself with is very important. I have found that everyone at Fluor is so helpful and willing to answer any questions I might have. The people I work with really excite me and push me to achieve my goal of becoming a Professional Engineer.

One of my goals in life is to learn something new every day. Working in civil engineering, I most definitely get the opportunity to do that! There is only so much that school can teach you. When you actually start working, there is so much still to learn in STEM. I absolutely love it! My goal is to obtain my P.Eng. as soon as I am eligible. Until then, I want to set myself up for success and really absorb as much information I can. There are so many people within my field of work that want to help and support me as I reach my career goals. I’m so thankful for them!

How I affect peoples’ lives

Within structural engineering, it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of all buildings and designs to allow people to use and access the structures. In an energy industry perspective, we design structures or foundations that support a company’s process or equipment to ultimately produce products. With the goal of Net Zero by 2050, we are working on projects that focus on sustainability and emission reductions.

To me, another important aspect in civil engineering is that you can see the product of your work. You can see the structure you helped designed, the highway you helped develop, or the plot of land you helped survey. Your designs help change the way people interact with each other. This can be how people interact on the roads with other vehicles. Or it can be how people interact in a new building. That’s the best part about civil engineering! The designs you create help make a positive change in the way people interact with each other

Outside of work I

I love being active! Quite often you will find me at the latest spin class. If I’m not there, I’m on a hike or snowboarding in the mountains, at the gym, going on a bike ride or at a curling game. I also spend a lot of my time volunteering within the STEM field or taking on new leadership committee roles.

My advice to others

Say yes to those opportunities that come your way to try something new! Since I was very unfamiliar with the field of engineering, I didn’t know what to expect during my research in grade 11. After saying yes to that opportunity, I found a passion that I am happy about! Maybe you will too!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Foods and Nutrition
  • Physical Education / Health
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Math
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Was really creative
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Learned best "by doing"
  • Always knew exactly what I wanted to do

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