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Rebecca Derk

 A Conversation with Rebecca

What is your current job? Please list the title and briefly describe what it involves.

I am a Project Manager with the Department of National Defence. I provide support and manage portions of large scale contaminated site projects.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

I knew what I didn’t want to be growing up, but I never knew what I wanted to be. I was good at maths and sciences so decided to try engineering. I utilized the co-op program at the University of Waterloo to determine what type of engineering jobs I preferred.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I enjoy working with different types of people, the challenges, and the variety of interesting situations requiring multi-disciplinary teamwork.

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

I am participating in this 30 in 30 campaign. I may also take in some interesting presentations being held locally to celebrate National Engineering Month and International Women’s Day.

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

Always try and do your best, even if it’s out of your comfort zone. Learn from your experiences, both good and bad.

Rebecca’s BiographyI studied Environmental Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. While there, I tried a variety of different jobs during co-op terms to figure out what kind of career I wanted. When I graduated, I was able to go back to one of my former co-op postings and get a job, which eventually lead to a 10 year career with Public Works and Government Services Canada. I managed projects and programs for a variety of environmental aspects for clients, including but not limited to contaminated sites, fuel storage tanks, drinking water, and mould. In 2010, I switched to the Department of National Defence (DND) where I managed projects and programs for an even wider myriad of environmental aspects. I learned more about the Canadian Armed Forces and participated in a variety of working groups designed to improve the Army’s Environmental program. In 2015, I switched groups within DND and am now providing support and managing sub-projects for large scale contaminated sites projects.

I have a wonderful husband and two children. I enjoy staying physically fit playing sports and working out with friends. I also enjoy taking long trips on my motorcycle in the summer. These trips have taken me to the east coast, including Newfoundland; the Blue Ridge Parkway; Sturgis and the Black Hills, and the White Mountains.



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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