Sports, engineering and volunteering make Dave Austen, P.Eng., one busy APEGGA
David Austen, P.Eng., has been an APEGGA member and Outreach
volunteer since 1992. An aeronautics certification engineer
with Transport Canada, David is a busy family man and sportsman,
but continues to find time to volunteer with APEGGA.
When and why did you join APEGGA?
I moved from Ontario to Alberta in 1992 and joined APEGGA
to enable my credentials and practice on behalf of my employer,
Transport Canada - Aircraft Certification. Previously I
was a member of PEO (Ontario) and APEGM (Manitoba).
As an engineer/geoscientist, how do you contribute to APEGGA?
I have been volunteering with the Outreach Program, in schools
and at other functions, since joining APEGGA in 1992.
Why do you volunteer with APEGGA?
I volunteer with APEGGA because it’s important to support
our organization in its various aspects and particularly
in the Outreach program. It gets me out of the office in
a fun way and allows me to stimulate school kids to think
about math and science – maybe even to become engineers
What value do you get from being an APEGGA volunteer?
I get good value in volunteering by seeing people recognize
APEGGA and its value to society, not only as a licensing
body but also as a promoter of math and science (engineering)
and the safe, responsible use of technology.
What are your other hobbies and interests?
I am into so many things: running (with my wife and younger
daughter), karate, archery (with my older daughter), orienteering,
woodworking, winemaking, reading, helping my kids grow.
If I wasn’t so busy, I’d find something new
to be busy at.
Have you received an award or special recognition that is
important to you?
I received an Outreach award, consisting of a framed set
of the Iron Ring stamps together with quotes from some of
the teachers and students I had visited. This kind of feedback
is important because it validates my efforts on behalf of
APEGGA and it is a visible sign to my work colleagues that
volunteering does have positive impacts.
Can you recall a particularly memorable volunteer experience?
I think my most memorable volunteer experience was at the
end of a boats and buoyancy presentation (Grade 2) when,
as the kids were heading out for recess, a little girl
turned around, ran up to me and gave me a big hug of thanks
for a fun science class.
What would you consider as a dream project, one that you
would like to be involved in?
Two possibilities: first, to capture and enable the old Federal
Building in Edmonton to become a shelter for the homeless.
Second, to participate in a planning/design role for a manned
mission to Mars.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you
Everywhere. There’s so much to see and learn and so
many people to meet. After having lived in seven of Canada’s
10 provinces, I am happy to explore and learn just about
What made you decide to become an engineer?
I always had an interest in science because my father was
in aviation. I basically grew up around airplanes. Then
I actually started out towards architecture, but ended
up in first-year engineering. Something in first-year applied
mechanics caught my interest and I stayed – no regrets!
Now I am once more immersed in aviation.
What is the greatest challenge to you in being an engineer?
My greatest challenge as an engineer is to try to keep up
with technological change, both in my areas of practice
and in my additional areas of interest. So much is going
on out there, it is a difficult task. In younger years
I also had more time to keep up, but family responsibilities
and activities tend to eat up a lot of the available schedule
What high-tech product could you not live without and why?
I don’t think that there’s any one product that
I could not live without. Rather, losing one product simply
means that we have to work around or adapt by use of other
products or systems of products. Different people have different
needs, especially in terms of technology. The use of technology
can be customized to fit those needs (or limitations).
What do you think the next hot trend/subject/discipline
will be in engineering?
Autonomous automation, whether in unmanned air vehicles (UAVs
or drones) or other robotic systems, is already becoming
a hot topic. Within the next 10 years, UAVs will be integrated
into normal air traffic patterns on a routine basis. In fact,
the integration process has already begun at elementary levels.
Beyond that, micro- and nanotechnology will continue development
and be integrated into existing systems and products as well
as create new ones.
What’s your favourite book or movie?
My favourite book is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
I re-read it every year or two.