Environment, People Spotlight, Transportation, Water

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a geotechnical engineer-in-training from our Environment business line in Canada and providing an insight into their inspiration and work. 

Colton Wooster is a geotechnical engineer-in-training based in our Winnipeg, Manitoba office and works on projects primarily in northern Canada. Working across our Transportation and Water business lines, he is involved in projects related to contract administration, geotechnical investigations and reporting. 

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry. 

Growing up, my family primarily worked in the healthcare and education fields, so I was unfamiliar with the engineering industry. I’ve always excelled in mathematics and problem solving, however, I struggled during my first year of university as I could not find a career path that inspired me to succeed or allowed me to apply my strengths. 

I took a break from school to work in the construction industry in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Working closely with project managers and engineers, I gained a deep understanding of the dynamic role of an engineer, paving the way for my career in the field. 

Based on my previous university experience, I decided to take a different path. I applied for and then graduated with a civil engineering technology diploma from a local college. This approach allowed me to assess my commitment to the field — if I was successful, the door was open to continue towards a civil engineering degree. I wanted to ensure that this career path was what I envisioned. 

After my first year at college, I was hooked! I knew this was the career path for me. I dedicated myself to four years of rigorous study, supplementing my education by working in the summer months to fund it. After graduation, I entered the industry initially with a geosynthetic company. During this time, I developed an interest in geotechnical engineering. However, I always had the goal of working in consulting, so when I saw the opportunity to join AECOM on their geotechnical team, I immediately applied. 

Based on my previous university experience, I decided to take a different path. I applied for and then graduated with a civil engineering technology diploma from a local college. This approach allowed me to assess my commitment to the field. After my first year at college, I was hooked! I knew this was the career path for me. After graduation, I entered the industry initially with a geosynthetic company. During this time, I developed an interest in geotechnical engineering.”

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why? 

I have recently joined AECOM’s Indigenous Blooming Program. This program emphasizes the importance of mentorship, experience and inspiration as key elements in the future success of AECOM and the next generation of infrastructure professionals. The program provides high school and university graduates from Indigenous communities the chance to explore professions leading to fulfilling careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math, as well as business, economic development, environment and federal services. AECOM is interested in connecting with students who are passionate in these fields, with potentially providing mentorship, internship and possible future employment. 

I am an Indigenous person and was given support from my band during my time at university. I will always be grateful for that support. Having navigated university challenges alone, my goal now is to support, encourage and guide future engineers, and help contribute to the success of the organization. 

AECOM’s Indigenous Blooming Program provides high school and university graduates from Indigenous communities the chance to explore professions leading to fulfilling careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math, as well as business, economic development, environment and federal services. Having navigated university challenges alone, my goal now is to support, encourage and guide future engineers, and help contribute to the success of the organization.”

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community. 

Since joining AECOM, I have been involved in geotechnical field work and contract administrative work for a new water treatment plant in a remote community in northern Manitoba. This project aligns with Canada’s goal to eliminate drinking water advisories through infrastructure improvement and training. AECOM is the consultant for the construction of the plant expected to complete by the end of 2024. Everyone around the world should have access to clean drinking water, and I am confident that the outcome of this project will positively impact the local community it will serve. 

I have been involved in geotechnical field work and contract administrative work for a new water treatment plant in a remote community in northern Manitoba. This project aligns with Canada’s goal to eliminate drinking water advisories through infrastructure improvement and training. I am confident that the outcome of this project will positively impact the local community.”

Share a piece of career advice. 

Life isn’t a race. It is better to take the necessary time to understand yourself, your life and career goals, than it is to rush into something that may not be right for you. The most important thing in life is happiness and understanding your self-worth.  

In today’s age of social media, it’s easy to get caught up in comparing the status of your life versus that of others. Attempting to keep pace with friends, past colleagues, and family members can be exhausting and harmful to your mental health. Life has no instructions, there isn’t a single path to success. So, take it each day at a time and make the most out of every opportunity provided to you. 

I would say don’t be afraid to try something new, but that can be challenging. Every unfamiliar situation comes with uncertainty and that can be daunting. It’s okay to be afraid, just don’t let that fear consume you. Put in the work and make the attempt. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail and you learn from your mistakes. 

Originally published Jun 5, 2024

Author: Colton Wooster