Vancouver local shares how she became an “unlikely” engineer

Apr 6 2022, 8:38 pm

When you’re truly passionate about what you do, not only does it shine through in your work, it allows you to make an impact in your industry, which is certainly the case for engineer in training Megan Gent.

“I am incredibly lucky to work for Victoria Gold in the beautiful traditional territories of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun at the Eagle Gold Mine approximately 85 km north of Mayo, Yukon,” she tells Daily Hive. “For anyone reading this who has been to this area, I don’t think it will be a surprise when I say that working outside in the field is one of my favourite parts of the day. Even in the winter!”

As a mining engineer in training (EIT) in drill and blast planning, Gent’s role sees her working in the field with operations, which is something she says fits well with her personality and skillset. Gent enjoys “working with people in lieu of staring at a computer screen for too long.” Her position with Victoria Gold supports this sentiment and her tenacity for problem-solving.

Like other women working in the field, she has faced barriers on her professional journey, but she continues to overcome them, and her story is one of inspiration. We spoke with Gent to learn why “joining the mining program at BCIT was definitely one of the better life decisions” she has made.

The path to becoming an engineer

Mining engineer in training out in the field

Mining engineering students (Scott McAlpine/BCIT)

Gent didn’t set out to become an engineer after school, which is a testament to the fact that you can change industries or the direction of your career at any stage.

“I didn’t set out to pursue this career to begin with. In fact, the idea of engineering never crossed my mind when deciding on post-secondary education,” she tells us. “I originally intended to study dietetics, but after a series of slightly impulsive decisions, I ended up enrolling in the two-year Mineral Exploration and Mining Technology diploma program and progressed into the Mining and Mineral Resource Engineering degree program after the first year.”

The EIT notes that she hasn’t considered herself an “engineering personality” because she “didn’t like math, preferred to socialize,” and her “hobbies are largely creative.” She describes transferring to the engineering degree from the diploma as taking a chance and says she is “still genuinely surprised” at what a good fit engineering has been for her.

“In the beginning, I was mostly drawn to the mining industry, and the engineering part was secondary. But over time, I realized how many other parts of my personality lent themselves to engineering,” says Gent. “The problem-solving nature of this career is a large part of why I love being an engineer.”

Teamwork is another aspect she appreciates. “I like to joke that most people think of engineering as an anti-social, introverted career style, but it really couldn’t be further from the truth. I know very few engineers that work in a bubble,” says Gent, emphasizing how “strong social and communication skills” are a tremendous asset for engineers.

“Developing innovative designs or ideas is wonderful, but being able to effectively communicate them to the necessary parties is a big part of any engineering job.”

Overcoming barriers in the industry

The engineering and mining sectors have traditionally been dominated by men, and, Gent says, “there is still an old boys club mentality in mining and some branches of engineering.” Thus far in her career, she has personally faced barriers to overcome.

“The nature of knowing I generally have to prove myself over and over in certain types of roles, despite having experience or knowledge, just because I am a woman,” is one of the walls she has had to break down. While she says it has “changed a lot,” a stigma remains about “women in operations and field roles, where it can feel like people are waiting for you to do something that will back up an already-existing idea that they have in their mind.”

Gent says if she makes a mistake or does something incorrectly, “it isn’t just a ‘me’ thing — it becomes part of someone’s idea of how women aren’t suited for certain types of work or working environments.” However, she says she is seeing “a huge shift” as the culture changes.

“I think more people are realizing the value in having broader diversity in all areas within their teams and how unimaginative an echo chamber is as your company grows and develops. A group of people who all think the same and agree about everything will only ever come up with the same solution to a problem.”

Honing skills through education

 Mining engineering students from BCIT working on a project

Mining engineering students (Scott McAlpine/BCIT)

Gent credits the hands-on nature of the mining programs at BCIT, the support of the faculty, and the school itself for helping her not only feel like she belonged but that she could also play an important role as an engineer.

Before enrolling at BCIT, Gent’s most recent job was at a yoga studio. “I barely knew anything about mining engineering and had no prior experience in construction or anything similar,” she says. “I remember walking into my first class at BCIT and looking around the room, which at first glance was mostly men with very few women, and wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into.”

But Gent didn’t lose faith at that moment and stayed dedicated to her new educational path. “The amount of hands-on learning in the lab or the field was unique for an engineering program and extremely useful in setting up grads for the more practical side of their careers,” she says.

“There was a lot of support from BCIT toward networking and helping students create relationships with industry, whether this is through project work, events held through the school, relationships our instructors have as engineers and geologists in the field, or volunteer opportunities.”  

The programs at BCIT are intense, Gent notes, which she says “lends itself well” to an area of study like engineering, where time management and planning are valuable skills.

Seeing the future with excitement

When it comes to where Gent will take her career, the vast potential of opportunities excites her. 

“There are so many options and career paths in mining engineering, and I think having exposure to a variety of them is valuable. As an EIT with Victoria Gold, I was rotated into a few different roles as part of my training, and I’m looking forward to further experiences.”

At the end of our interview, Gent shares a reminder that all industries need more “unlikely” engineers. “People who can bring qualities like creativity, empathy, [and] communication skills into the analytical side of the career will do very well.” She recommends attending engineering info sessions and reaching out to people in your network or alumni from programs you’re interested in.

“You will be surprised at the variety of personalities that are drawn into this career, and the many opportunities after graduation.”

At BCIT, students can take accredited programs in four branches of engineering: civil, electrical, mechanical, and mining. The school supports diversity and inclusion in engineering, providing equitable learning and networking opportunities for girls and women. 

To view the full range of programs offered and register for an information session, visit

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