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June 01, 2021

Q&A with Stantec’s Inventor Mentors

​Elisa Costa, Associate Architect, Stantec

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?

Find a way to investigate the problem from many angles to find the optimal solution. In trying to design the ideal hospital bedroom we set up real-life 3D mock-ups to help doctors and nurses test out the room.

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

Do what you love. It’s so much easier to be motivated to learn and innovate about a topic that you are passionate about.
 
 
Faiz Bhatia, Project Manager, Stantec Consulting Ltd.

What’s an invention or innovative idea that you have helped to develop and what steps did you take to develop it?

Working with the City of Toronto, I helped to develop a tool to rank which flooding improvement projects should proceed to construction. The matrix included technical components, such as the relative improvement to the community and cost, and also considered the vulnerability of the community (measured by marginalization index) and risk of exposure to flooding.
 
The development of such a tool involved communication and collaboration with the team, reading up on supporting materials to understand the goals and impacts, and of course, lot of trial and error. The result was an easy-to-use pilot tool for the City's internal use in allocating budget towards the most critical projects.

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

My advice to my middle-school self would be to identify two things: what do I do well and what am I actually interested in? Often, the two are synonymous, which is great! But sometimes, we can be timid or nervous to learn about new material or new subjects that we think would be interesting.
 
In an age where information is available at our fingertips (I didn't have Google in middle school), it is important to stay informed and engaged with the latest trends and technological advancements so that you can continue to identify where your interests lie as the world changes around you. That way, when you are faced with career-defining decisions, you are prepared to act upon those two things: what do you do well and what are you interested in?
Michele Colley, Transit Advisory Consultant, Stantec Consulting Ltd.

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?
Ask questions that make you think about the problem in a different way: What if? What's the worst that could happen? Can I apply a solution from somewhere else to solve this problem? How can I learn from past successes and failures? What unique perspective can I bring? How can advancements in technology change how things are done?

I come up with creative solutions to real-world problems every day in my job as a Transit Planner. Not all communities have the same needs and not every neighbourhood has enough demand to fill traditional buses. I use advancements in technology and real-time data to develop solutions that are tailored to each community and change the way people think about mobility. What if we use smaller vehicles? What if we eliminate schedules? Can we borrow ideas from ridesharing companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) and apply them to public transit? These are the exciting questions I explore daily while collaborating with transit agencies and my colleagues to find solutions.

What advice would you give your middle-school self?

Be open to every learning opportunity even if it isn't exactly what you're looking for. You will grow the most when you step out of our comfort zone and each educational and professional experience will help you develop transferable skills like teamwork, critical thinking, and communication that will be necessary for your future career. You may even discover a new passion while you're at it!
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