Dan King started in Civil Engineering and is now Vice-President of a textiles company in Alberta. Jun Xiong started working in an apparel company and is now a civil engineer in Winnipeg. How did that happen? Here are their stories.
Dan King, Vice-President, VP, Production, Research and Development
Davey Textile Solutions, Edmonton, Alberta.
After graduating high school, I pursued Civil Engineering Technology at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). It was an excellent choice. I learned some valuable concepts in structural engineering, testing methods and computing. To satisfy my curiosity in computing, I proceeded to complete a certificate program in Computing Fundamentals at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education. That experience solidified my interest in computing, motivating me to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Computing Science. This opened a world of opportunity for me. I had two successive summer jobs working for Imperial Oil Ltd (IOL), which was a doorway to a fulltime opportunity with IOLs field operations upon graduation. Being immersed in field operations with a leading oil and gas company was tremendously eye-opening. I learned about production methods, safety considerations and the general politics of a large organization.
My experience in both Engineering and Computing prepared me to take advantage of opportunities for career development. In 1989, a good friend from my NAIT days, Grant Davey, had decided to join his parents in their new business, Davey Fabrics Inc. In 1992, Grant and the family approached me with an opportunity with their rapidly growing company. They needed a computer specialist to bring this technology into the company. I happily transitioned. Over the ensuing eight years, I learned everything from basic shipping methods to textile construction. A true blessing was that we were a distributor of various textiles, including a large variety of constructions, fibre contents and weights. This gave me a very strong awareness of the diversity of textile systems. I also became increasingly aware of the alignment between my Civil/Structural Engineering education and this newly acquired understanding of textiles.
Over the next few decades, my skills and competency grew in the field of textile science. Reflecting, I see that nothing is wasted. I am now a partner in the newly named Davey Textile Solutions. In my role of VP, Production, Research and Development, I continue to draw on the learnings from my time in Engineering, Computing Science and my job experience. Without these various educational experiences, I would not be nearly as effective as I am today in this role. My learning: Follow your heart; It will tell you where you belong.
Jun Xiong, Municipal Engineer, J. R. Cousin Consultants, Winnipeg
The direction of my career development is exactly opposite to Dan’s. After I received my Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba in 2007, I was employed by Nygard International as product manager. My work involved studying the properties of fabrics for clothing, which I enjoyed immensely. However, I was not content with the simple explanations offered by my manager or by my suppliers. I felt if I had a deeper understanding of the science of textiles, I could have done a much better job in making sound decisions. Subsequently, I quit my job and enrolled in the Master of Science program in Textile Sciences at the University of Manitoba in 2010. While I was taking graduate-level courses at U of M, I was drawn in by a lecture on using fabric as a formwork material by Professor Mark West from the Architecture department. I was fascinated by the beautiful shapes and surfaces created by fabric on concrete, so much so that I decided to conduct my thesis research on the technical side of using fabric in formwork (I presented the results of my thesis in the 111th ITS Scientific Session). Not long after I dug into my research I realized that the science of fabrics alone cannot result in beautiful shapes and surfaces. A successful formwork is the result of understanding the structure to be formed, the properties of concrete and construction methods. Therefore, as I was finishing my Master’s thesis, I decided to enrol in the Civil Engineering program in 2013. The Civil Engineering program greatly satisfied my hunger for knowledge. In addition to structures and concrete, my interactions with professors elevated my understanding of this world to a higher level. After receiving my Civil Engineering degree, I began to work as a Municipal Engineer E.I.T. in J.R. Cousin Consultants in Winnipeg. While I enjoy my work as a civil engineer, I felt my un-used energy can be utilized to achieve a higher purpose. Thus, I signed up to be a reservist in the military to serve the country and at the same time, to enrich my life experience. I am very happy that I have, dare I say, engineered a civilian and military career, but I know there are still many more questions to be answered and more potential to be utilized. I wish in future, after I complete my duties as a civil engineer and military officer, I can go back to school and continue my pursuit of knowledge and to find answers to questions.