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Insights What inspired Francis to become a hydraulic engineer?

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Francis from our Power, Grid and Industrial Solutions team. 

This is a picture of Francis outside by some houses

Can you tell us a bit about your career path? 

I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering in 2015 and a Master’s Degree in Free Surface Hydraulics in 2017 from Polytechnique Montréal. I joined AtkinsRéalis during the final year of my master’s program. I have been with the company for nearly four years, working as a Hydrology/Hydraulic Engineer in the Power, Grid and Industrial Solutions business unit. Most of my work focuses on hydroelectricity and dam safety. 

What drove you to become a hydraulic engineer?  

I chose engineering because it was an opportunity to apply my knowledge of science and mathematics in a very practical way. I was attracted to the problem-solving aspect. I gradually became passionate about hydroelectricity during my studies. There is extensive expertise in this field in Quebec, Canada, which is a source of great national pride, so I wanted to get involved. 

What’s the coolest thing you’ve worked on? 

I create computer-based models of dam breakages to support the development of flood maps and emergency response plans. It’s fascinating to be able to visualize such extreme events. I find dam safety work rewarding as it’s primarily focused on protecting the public. 

What’s had the greatest impact on your career development so far? 

As a part of the AtkinsRéalis team, I learned how to apply 3D computer modelling to water flows. I’m lucky to have learned how to use similar tools early in my career as they will become increasingly important in my field. I’ve also been fortunate to be supported by a group of experienced and skilful engineers.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? Who gave it to you? 

A senior engineer on my team once explained how the accuracy of our reports is essential in my field and that quality should never be compromised. What we write down is indelible proof of our work. Since then, as I’ve read reports that were sometimes decades-old I’ve seen first hand the wisdom in those words. Others will read, use and assess our reports years after we’ve finished a project and moved on to something else.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. 

I’m completely obsessed with American politics. I read as many articles and listen to as many podcasts as I can on the topic. It may seem like a strange hobby, but since it has almost nothing to do with engineering, it helps clear my head! 

What’s your favourite quote and why? 

 An impasse is where my greatest inspirations are born.

by Milan Kundera

It reminds me of what I like most about my job, solving problems. The best ideas always come about when an issue seems unsolvable.