By Dan Motyka, P.Eng.
By now, many of you will be aware that the brightness of our summer was clouded by the passing on July 23 of Dennis Lindberg, P.Eng., whose thoughtful words and caricature graced this space until just a few months ago. The death of APEGGA’s Immediate Past-President means a loss to many of a good friend and a dedicated professional colleague. Our sympathies go out to Jacquie and members of the family.
Those who knew Dennis through his work with Thurber Engineering and his participation in the Association — as a member of APEGGA committees, Council, 2nd Vice-President, 1st Vice-President and, eventually, as our 1997-98 President — came to recognize a man of exceptional kindness, competence and good humor. Those who were privileged to have dealings with Dennis in the months subsequent to his diagnosis with a brain tumor earlier this year, came to appreciate yet another dimension of the man — his extraordinary courage and determination in the face of extremely arduous circumstances.
Though his illness eventually required that he delegate some presidential duties — he did so with reluctance and a continuing interest in ensuring that things be done right.
Even as his health was failing, Dennis made a point of dropping by APEGGA’s offices to chat with staff, to share his enthusiasm, and, amid the challenges that faced him personally, to offer words of encouragement for those working on the Association’s behalf.
Dennis left his mark — that’s not in doubt. We are saddened that the talents of a relatively young man, so recently full of energy and always eager to make the world a better place, have been taken from us. Personally, I know that my task ahead will be just that more challenging without the benefit of Dennis’ insight and wisdom at the APEGGA Council table, or just a telephone call away. However, I am encouraged by the fact that I can draw upon the experience of Fred Otto, P.Eng., PhD, who preceded Dennis as APEGGA President and who has agreed to fill in the void left by his departure.
Volunteers Add Value
If Dennis Lindberg was a consummate professional, he was also a dedicated volunteer who over the years devoted countless hours for the benefit of the Association and the public whose well-being it ultimately is dedicated to serving. Prior to Dennis’ passing, I already had decided to use part of this column to salute the importance of volunteers within our Association. I’m sure that Dennis would not have minded evoking his name in encouraging our members, notably those who have held back to date, to volunteer some time and energy to support Association activities. Volunteers in many ways are the lifeblood of our Association.
An important outlet for volunteer activity is provided by the close to two dozen APEGGA boards, task forces and committees. Traditionally, fall is the time when rosters are drawn up, providing an opportunity for the infusion of new committee talent and for some committee veterans to shift their volunteer efforts toward another committee.
In the last few years, many APEGGA members found themselves in a constant of flux through downsizing and corporate
reorganization. Frankly, it has not always been easy to fill committees and branch executive positions. I am happy to report that this has not been the case this year. In fact, we had most of the approximately 450 positions on committees, boards and branches executives filled by late July. That’s great news, I commend those who have agreed to serve.
There is always a flip side danger to that kind of good news if, for some reason, it leaves the impression that there is no need for additional volunteers.
Let me assure you that’s not the case — there still are opportunities to be an active APEGGA member by becoming a presence in your branch, or by volunteering to help our student outreach program. The latter, which includes visits to classrooms and participation in events such as the science and career-orientation fairs, had contact with an estimated 40,000 students last year. Unfortunately, numerous request from teachers for classroom talks and presentations by APEGGA members still have to be turned down through a lack of volunteers. APEGGA’s student outreach staff would be more than happy to hear from you (in Edmonton call 403-426-3990 or 1-800-661-7020 and in Calgary 403-262-7714).
Remember, volunteering is not just a matter of giving. It also is a means of receiving — through the knowing your efforts make a difference, by raising your level awareness about your profession, and by meeting and getting to know others with shared interests and aspirations.
For those already on our volunteer roster — a big thanks. For those thinking of coming aboard — the door is open.
FIDIC Is Here
Finally, allow me to draw your attention to an important international engineering gathering taking place in Alberta Sept. 6-10, as Edmonton hosts the annual meeting of FIDIC, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers. Hard work over a number of years by organizers, spearheaded by Bob Kavanagh, P.Eng., and other representatives from the Consulting Engineers of Alberta, has brought this conference to our province for the first time, and back to Canada after 30 years. While other events may attract larger numbers, the participants coming to Edmonton this month include some very important and influential players on the international consulting scene, who will be treated to a full and well planned program. We know that Alberta consultants increasingly are selling their expertise and services overseas and that Canada ranks fourth in the world in terms of export of engineering services. APEGGA is lending support to the FIDIC conference by hosting a reception prior to a gala dinner on Sept. 9.
FIDIC isn’t in the habit of returning to the same locale for its annual gathering. It means that an already vigorous and strong Alberta consulting
engineering sector has a unique opportunity to showcase what we have to offer.