When APEGBC’s President for 2015/2016 was seven years old, his mother made a deal with a local TV repair shop to drop off unfixable TVs for him to take apart. It was a dream come true, and at that moment, Michael Wrinch—not yet P.Eng., FEC—knew he wanted to be a TV repair man.

A decade later, however, his career choice was not well received by his parents.

“It was suggested that I consider engineering, where I could design the TVs,” Wrinch says. “I protested the idea of going to university, so my mother got me my first, real job. For the summer, I worked at the local fish factory, where I cleaned the chimneys and delivered fish guts to the fish fertilizer-processing company. After two summers, I retired from the factory and promptly applied to go to university.”

In the middle of his engineering degrees, obtained from Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of British Columbia, he took a year off to travel. “I spent time volunteering for Mother Theresa in Kolkata, India, and came to realize how lucky we Canadians are. We don’t worry about food, water or our health… in fact, we don’t have to worry about much at all. I saw things that are unimaginably sad, but I also witnessed some incredible, hard-working, dedicated people trying to improve the lives of some very disadvantaged people. They never gave up and had a philosophy to help the world, one person at a time, and it was working.”

He says he returned to university believing “if everyone gave just a bit of their time to a few things every day, we could change the world for the better.”

Today, Dr. Michael Wrinch, P.Eng., FEC, works as an electrical power systems engineer and designs safety, critical control, and energy delivery systems at the consulting company he founded, Hedgehog Technologies.

“I like to say, ‘We are saving the world, one schematic at a time.’”  A member for 13 years, Wrinch volunteered with many APEGBC committees and also served on Council twice before being elected Vice President in 2014. Here, he talks about his role and general priorities during the coming year.

What do you foresee to be the most pressing issue facing APEGBC and members?

The most pressing issue facing the association and members is how fast the world is changing.

For example, we need to understand how our professions can better embrace increasing cultural and social diversity, such as women in engineering and geoscience. How global changes, such as offshoring of engineering services or other groups seeking practice rights, impact our ability to protect the public. What about consideration of national licensure?

These are examples of potential issues related to licensing and public protection that lack easy answers. However, by being nimble and open to change, we will be better positioned to manage them appropriately.

To that end, this coming year, Council will work to help current and future members become known for the highest standards of practice, to further the association being regarded as a valued partner to members  and industry, and to advance our regulatory leadership to remain relevant.

Describe your vision for your term as APEGBC president.

I believe, as engineers and geoscientists, our job is to make the world a safer and better place. Our duty is to protect the people of British Columbia and anywhere else where BC engineers and geoscientists work. At APEGBC, our purpose is to create an environment where the highest standard of practice for our infrastructure and products is met, while ensuring they are safe, long lasting, and forward thinking.

APEGBC needs to continue developing an environment that enables BC engineers and geoscientists to operate, excel and be considered among the best in the world.

During your term as Vice President, you met with and talked to many members. What did you learn?

I found many members feel an increased need for greater transparency about the association and what it does for them. As a Council, there is a concerted effort to augment engagement and communications to members; I hope to further and add to these initiatives by Council and APEGBC staff.

I found some members question the finances of the association. I spent significant time looking over the finances and plan to further enhance how information about such things as core operational costs and benefits of various program is communicated to the membership. This will support more meaningful, evidence-based discussion and decisions and, in the end, lead to greater confidence that our dues are being used appropriately.

I also found many members have busy jobs and family lives, and haven’t much time to think about the association or the professions’ future. I hope to work with Council to create a team of forward-looking professionals to help the professions evolve.

How will you apply that during your term as President?

I believe that being president is about building strong, motivated teams of councillors and staff to focus on solving the key, long-term strategic issues facing the professions. These issues

are determined and decided upon through knowledge-based analysis. This supersedes any personal agenda, including mine.

As a team, Council will look at the key issues and make decisions about the highest-impact needs, in order to serve the professions in the long term.

Read the original profile at Innovation, November/December 2015

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