APEGGA Volunteer Enjoys the
Challenges of his Job
David Chalcroft, P.Eng., Speaks About APEGGA's Obligations, Engineering's
Contributions and the World of Consulting
Public Affairs Officer
Dave Chalcroft, P.Eng., points to a print of the Old Man Dam in Southern
Alberta that hangs in his Calgary office. He's discussing the many projects
he's been involved with over 37 years with UMA Engineering.
Well-traveled, widely experienced, and full of ideas and opinions about
his particular branch of engineering, Mr. Chalcroft, 58, enthuses about
the excitement and change that one becomes involved in as a consultant.
"There is a lot of variety in the consulting business. You are faced
with new challenges regularly," he explains. "Plus you have
the business aspect. If you like the business aspect, consulting gives
you the opportunity to really get in control of how you are working, and
the kinds of projects you can accomplish."
Mr. Chalcroft is the current chair of the Association of Consulting Engineers
of Canada. He has been involved since 1993 through Consulting Engineers
of Alberta, which he has served as a director and president in 1994/1995;
from there, he participated on the national board, first as a member of
the board of directors. Then he was recruited as chair.
Consultants and Society
He enjoys his involvement with organizations that teach the public about
the consulting engineering profession, and believes that they are key
to creating the infrastructure of society, while generating $6 billion
in business a year.
"We like to think we are the engines of the economy -- engineers
say that in general, and consulting engineers in particular say that."
For Mr. Chalcroft, his work with APEGGA and ACEC flows directly from that
"I think we're doing good things for the industry," Mr. Chalcroft
explains." We've honed our focus down to several key mandates"
This focus includes working through the ACEC to improve remuneration for
consulting engineers, which lags behind "in-house" engineers
by as much as 13 per cent.
"Most of our clients are engineers in corporations, and they don't
understand why charge rates from consulting firms are higher than they're
salaries in their offices. They don't see the extra overhead costs that
As a complementary part of raising the public's awareness about consulting
engineers, the ACEC is developing a student outreach program aimed at
coaching high school students and educators about curriculum and university
program requirements for engineering, with a focus on the consultant.
ACEC also monitors business practices. The association works with groups
such as construction and architects associations, to create standard contract
documents that will prevent disputes, saving time and money.
Observing and discussing emerging trends is another such function. This
takes on a dissemination role for members through luncheons, workshops,
When Disaster Strikes
Perhaps the most interesting public work that Mr. Chalcroft has become
involved with is a new venture called REDR -- Registered Engineers for
Disaster Relief. REDR, an agency formed several years ago in Britain under
the patronage of Princess Anne, recruits, trains and sends engineers of
all disciplines to assist in disaster relief, both man-made and natural,
in Canada and internationally. ACEC is the initiator of the Canadian arm
of this organization in partnership with CCPE and the Engineering Institute
Another pet project is lobbying the federal government to commit greater
funding our Canadian highways. Quite simply, they're underfunded, especially
compared to the U.S., which makes our trucking and transportation systems
less competitive, and our roads more dangerous for the average driver.
The Honour of Licensure
The road to all this began for Mr. Chalcroft when he finished his engineering
degree in 1964 at the University of Manitoba. Joining his professional
association was both a given and a privilege.
"I was registered from the start, but my feeling was that it was
not a burden, but an honour! Why wouldn't I want to join?"
Though a long-standing member, Mr. Chalcroft did not become active in
the Association until 1990, when he was recruited to the Practice Review
Board, serving for three years and becoming chair in the third year.
"It's a good arm of APEGGA because it has a lot of autonomy. You
can launch an investigation or take on an issue that you felt was important
to the organization without relying on direction from above. It was both
fun and challenging."
It was also a challenge to help APEGGA review its disciplinary and investigative
processes, and improve its methods of self-regulation. Working on this
committee fostered strong beliefs about the importance of self-regulation
for the professions, and a system that emphasizes accountability.
A Most Public Obligation
"I believe that all practicing bodies, government, companies, everyone,
shares the same public obligation. It is our obligation and role to safeguard
the public," says Mr. Chalcroft, now a member of the Acts, Regulations
and By-Laws Committee.
Much has changed in the profession since Mr. Chalcroft joined UMA in 1964,
but through it all, Mr. Chalcroft feels it has been a very rewarding time,
partially because of that consultant's enthusiasm for directing his or
her own business destiny.
"Employee ownership has been key at UMA. You get very involved in
the business side - and it keeps you involved because you contribute to
your own bottom line, whether good and bad."