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Story Giselle Wedemire | Illustration Union Illustration Co. based on a photo by Imagery Photography courtesy of APEGS
Civil Engineer Margaret Kuzyk defines innovation as the “ability to find better solutions to problems” — and those innovations are keeping her profession in a constant state of evolution.
When Kuzyk began her career more than 30 years ago, regulatory construction codes measured the minimum standard for public safety. Today Kuzyk is a leading expert in building codes who says social concerns — such as energy efficiency and wheelchair accessibility — are being translated into public policy and, eventually, into regulation in building codes and standards.
“It’s an interesting world full of so many technological developments.”
And, Kuzyk says, while innovation is crucial to progress, the challenge is keeping pace with the rapid development of new technologies and building materials. These need to be regulated and officially incorporated into building codes “to make sure that the use of these products is safe and appropriate, and that they will perform the way they should.” This can be a costly and lengthy exercise that is often done by volunteers like Kuzyk, who served on the executive committee of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes as well as numerous professional associations.
The solution, she says, would be more government funding to expedite the process of developing codes that accommodate innovations in building practices. “It’s an interesting world full of so many technological developments,” she says. But in order to meet their ethical obligations to protect the public, engineers “must continue learning throughout their careers to stay current with innovations.”