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Kristie Tarr

 A Conversation with Kristie

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

I’m now the Director of the Mining Extraction Division of CanmetMINING, which is a branch within Natural Resources Canada’s Minerals and Metals Sector. I’m responsible for the research and development work of three Mining Extraction Programs under CanmetMINING’s Green Mining Innovation initiative. I’m based in Sudbury, Ontario, and employees within my division are located in three regions: Sudbury, Ontario, Val-d’Or, Québec, and Bells Corners (Ottawa), Ontario.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

I was always interested in science and math, and I remember when I was in grade 12 and having difficulty deciding on a career path, some engineering students (both male and female) from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, visited my calculus class to explain the engineering disciplines to our class. I found their stories very interesting, and it was on that day that I decided to pursue a career in engineering. In my view, because at least one of the engineering students presenting to our class was a female, I could relate to her and see myself in such a role in my own future.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of my job is the variety of activities involved in my daily life at work – from meetings with internal and external people, to responding to requests from the Minister’s Office, to planning future research projects for my Division . In other words, it is challenging and certainly never boring, and the days go by very quickly!

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

Each year, during National Engineering Month, I volunteer as a member of the Sudbury Chapter of WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) to prepare for our annual event, the Science & Engineering Olympics. It’s an all-day event geared at girls in grades 4 through 8. In teams, the over 100 girls participate in fun, interactive science and engineering challenges, with an awards ceremony at the end of the day. The fulfilment I get out of being involved in the WISE Science & Engineering Olympics is un-paralleled. I still remember the first time a young girl told me that because of her experience at my challenge event during the all-day Olympics, she had decided that engineering was for her because she realized that she really was smart enough. How moving to realize that the effort you have put in to introduce your field to youngsters has truly made a difference in someone’s life. It brought tears to my eyes.

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

That’s the easiest question in this list. Choosing your career path is never easy. Too many times we allow ourselves to listen to the advice of others when it comes to choosing our careers. My advice is don’t be afraid to ask questions of those working in fields you’re interested in to gain information. A career in mining engineering can lead you almost anywhere you want to go. If you’re interested in engineering, keep your options open by taking math and science courses over the arts, and if you’re already in engineering, and are trying to decide on your discipline, the best advice is to seek out women working in those disciplines to have potential mentors. You’ll be surprised how open and flattered they’ll be to help.

Kristie’s BiographyI’m currently a Director within Natural Resources Canada, however I started back in 1996 as a university co-op student working as a laboratory technician. I then was offered a position to come back following graduation to work in the fields of ground control, mine backfill, and ground support for underground mining. In 2005, I became the Scientific Project Leader in the R&D on Alternative Binder Technology for mine backfill as it pertains to ground control in underground mines. More recently, in 2010, I began to manage programs within the Mining Extraction Division, which led me to my management career within CanmetMINING. While born in Nova Scotia, I have made my life in Sudbury, Ontario, I am married with two wonderful children, and a very fulfilling life.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, with a specialization in Soil Mechanics, from the Technical University of Nova Scotia, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1997. I then decided to pursue a master’s degree, and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Mineral Resources Engineering from Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, in 2009.

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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