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Real-life experience earns leadership appointment for engineering grad

Tramping around in a marsh isn’t something he would recommend for everyone, says Ian Wilson, but it helped him land a dream job.

As part of his research assistantship during his master’s studies in civil engineering, Wilson donned hip waders to survey the Big Creek marsh, which covers more than 700 hectares of southern Essex County.

“It was a foot of muck,” he says. “I got stuck at least a dozen times.”

His topographic survey is now being used to support the development of the Big Creek Watershed Plan, involving the town of Amherstburg, the Essex Region Conservation Authority, and the provincial and federal governments.

Wilson applied for an entry-level job with Dillon Consulting – consultants in planning,engineering, environmental sciences and management with more than 750 employees in 16 offices across Canada. Instead, his interviewers recommended him for a position with the company’s “President’s Crew,” an elite program designed to foster strategic thinking, leadership and effective communications.

“It is a very prestigious position,” says his faculty advisor, engineering professor Tirupati Bolisetti. “Dillon has a policy of limiting this program to a select few.”

Wilson earned his BASc in 2009 and will receive his master’s degree this fall. He says his interest in water management goes back to a co-op placement he served with the city of Windsor. For his undergraduate capstone project, he worked on stormwater management plans for the Centre for Engineering Innovation.

“My graduate studies here created an incredible opportunity for me,” he says. “My undergraduate degree gave me a strong technical background, and my master’s allowed me to become more adept in my professional skills. I was fortunate to work on a real-life field-oriented project whose outcome is being used by the stakeholders in the development of Big Creek Watershed Plan.”

He says he is especially excited to be joining the President’s Crew.

“It will give me the opportunity to learn and grow – they try to diversify you as an individual.”

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