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Rachelle McCann

There is a culture in engineering of unity, support and giving back that I highly value. I have pursued engineering as a career because I want to do my part to better society in some way.

A recent graduate of Chemical Engineering with a minor in Sustainable Energy from the University of Toronto. Rachelle is passionate about renewable energy and energy efficiency. She is currently employed as a Consultant at Compass Renewable Energy and has previously held an internship position as a Review Engineer Assistant at the Ministry of the Environment. Her other interests include travel and discovering new places. Combining these passions, Rachelle has travelled to Glasgow, Scotland where she was a Research Assistant at The University of Strathclyde, as well as Mumbai, India where she took part in a course titled “Energy Futures of India and Canada”. Rachelle highly values leadership, creativity, and expressing one’s self. She has held positions of leadership in extracurricular activities including Team Captain of the University of Toronto Quidditch Team, Spirit Captain of the University of Toronto Concrete Toboggan Design Team, and Head Leedur (sic) for the University of Toronto Engineering Orientation Team.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, what is your current job?

Consultant, Compass Renewable Energy Consulting Inc.

Compass Renewable Energy Consulting Inc. is a boutique management consulting firm offering FIT expertise, policy support, and due diligence. One of my larger roles at Compass involves providing Domestic Content Monitoring and Auditing support to a portfolio of four solar ground mount projects in Ontario. Domestic Content Compliance is associated with ensuring that the materials used in a renewable energy project meet certain local content standards.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

My passion for the environment was sparked the summer of 2007 when I was involved in the Ontario Ranger Program, employed by the Ministry of Natural Resources. I spent the summer alongside about 20 other young women learning about and cleaning up my camp’s local environment in the Timmins area. This was an exceptional experience that I will not soon forget. I pursued engineering in university because I excelled in science and math courses throughout high school. I stuck with engineering throughout university because I realized that it’s not just about being good with numbers, there is much more to the profession of engineering. There is a culture in engineering of unity, support and giving back that I highly value. I have pursued engineering as a career because I want to do my part to better society in some way.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

What I value most about my job is that I am providing assistance to companies who are seeking to implement renewable energy. I also personally enjoy being involved with a wide variety of projects because I never settle into the same way of thinking or solving problems. This creates an interesting work environment. In essence, my job is to simplify and explain difficult concepts or make sense of large amounts of information, but also present it to clients in a useful way.

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

A recent tradition with my graduating class has developed where we celebrate the anniversary of the day we received our iron rings. The iron ring symbolizes an engineer’s obligations and responsibilities to society. It is a constant, but subtle reminder that our decisions have the potential to impact society, positively and negatively. Not only are we remembering the symbol of engineering and what it means to us, but we are reunited with classmates that we have known for many years and shared many experiences with. This is a great opportunity to discover what our class has aspired to and to realize the breadth of engineering.

What advice do you have for young women who hope to pursue a career in your field?

Believe that you have what it takes to become an engineer and then work hard until that becomes a reality. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; that is the best way to learn. Realize the opportunities available to you and take advantage of them. Many of the beneficial experiences I’ve had throughout my university career are because I took advantage of opportunities that most other students didn’t bother to. For example, the research position in Scotland and the course in India both began because I attended an information session regarding these opportunities. Lastly, never give up.

How would you describe the relationship with your mentor/mentee?

My mentor and I initially met during my Professional Experience Year (PEY) at the Ministry of the Environment through the Women in Engineering Mentorship Initiative (WEMI) program. My mentor was extremely willing to provide advice, insight, or whatever else I was seeking. I found it especially helpful during my fourth year at university because I was balancing a busy final year with resume tweaking and job searching, as well as with general concerns for the future. My mentor provided insight into her experiences transitioning into life after university, which I found comforting. I’ve even had a job opportunity arise through my mentor.

A good mentor is an extremely useful resource, full of insight and advice, with whom you can share your thoughts, ideas, or concerns with for discussion. A good mentor is available for their mentee to provide assistance and to share their experiences with a younger generation.

As a mentor, I aim to provide assistance and advice, as well as share my experiences in hopes of benefiting my mentee. In the past I have been a mentor with Skule Sisters (sic), a program which pairs a second year, female university student with a grade 10, female high school student who is interested in pursuing engineering. This program spans multiple years in order to build a mentoring relationship.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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