Planning through acoustic engineering plays a pivotal role in construction and building across the province, especially as land becomes more scarce.
Mandy Chan, P.Eng., is one of us. As senior engineer at HGC Engineering she’s helping bridge the gap between developers, governments, and residents of Ontario for seamless and effective noise control solutions as the world is built around us.

OSPE:
Why did you choose engineering as a career?

MANDY:
Well in high school, you’re always wondering what you want to do, where you want to go to university, and a friend suggested engineering. It appealed to me because it’s such a varied career; there are so many options and avenues to pursue, especially in environmental engineering. I began this job right out of university, and I was exposed to such a unique field – acoustic engineering – it was a field I didn’t even really know existed. Once I got into it, working on the developmental side, I discovered how important it is as part of the planning of a development.
OSPE:
Tell us more about that.

MANDY:
Sure, well, this little noise component if improperly planned, can hold up an entire development. So in terms of the acoustical work we do, it is approval-based at the municipal or provincial level, and sometimes even at the federal level. For example, if a builder wants to develop a piece of land, and they have to go through various approvals, many times the noise or vibration study is part of the requirement. Let’s say a builder wants to construct a building next to a highway, we would look at the impact of the road traffic on the proposed building, and develop and design windows and walls and other building facade constructions that would meet the requirements of the various levels of government.
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OSPE:
A lot of what engineers do requires working as the bridge between two entities. Have you found that to be true in your work?

MANDY:
Yes. Because my work is approval based and because I’m often working for the builder, I often have to mediate and find a middle ground between what the city wants, and the goals of the construction. I facilitate those conversations so that a positive end result can be achieved. It’s one aspect of my job that I enjoy more and more; becoming an expert and being called upon to resolve issues to make positive change.


OSPE:
Tell us about other aspects of your work that help change the world for people and their enjoyment of their everyday lives.

MANDY:
I’ve written a few journals regarding architectural acoustical engineering, which involves the design and construction of theatres and concert halls; how best to design them so that the sound works well. This applies not only to large-scale theatres but other areas like school theatres and even classrooms. Sound is crucial for allowing a proper learning environment.
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OSPE:
How has your work evolved?

MANDY:
Land use, and available land continues to be a challenge. We try to have multi-use areas within the same land and make it work from a noise perspective so that everything works well together in more and more confined spaces. You know, you need to have retail space alongside residential developments for convenience, as well as prosperity and commerce, but you also have to make sure the two can co-exist seamlessly.

OSPE:
More and more women are choosing engineering as a career. What are your thoughts on that?

MANDY:
Just 10 years ago when I first started, there were women in the field, but I would like to see more. Early in my career, for example, when I would visit construction sites, you really didn’t see a lot of women working in those places, but I have found that in the last few years you’re seeing more and more women; women driving tractors, excavators and things like that, so the environment is better now for women.
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