Engineering a legacy
Sitting in a boardroom at the Halifax Port Authority’s waterfront office this summer, David Idemudia reflects on his early life growing-up in Nigeria. His dad, a land surveyor, would frequently take David and his older brother on car rides to show them the properties he was surveying for work, and to let them see the sort of projects he worked on everyday. He was proud to show his sons what he did for a living, and the impact his work had on the world around them.
In 2014, David moved to Canada, joining his older brother who at the time was studying materials engineering at Dal. As a kid, David had aspirations of following in his dad’s footsteps and becoming a land surveyor himself, but later decided that engineering held his interest a bit more. When it came time to choosing his discipline during his second year of engineering, he landed on civil; a discipline that frequently worked closely with land surveyors, and was all too familiar to him.
But likely due to his dad’s pride of work and the memory of those childhood car rides, the idea of wanting more — a living legacy — started to shape his focus.
“In my second year at Dal, I started to get a better idea of the different fields available to me in civil engineering,” he explains. “There’s structural, which includes buildings. Then you’ve got transportation, which involves things like our roads. And then municipal engineering, which includes water and sewers. I’m choosing to focus on the structural side of things.”
He adds: “Because you can’t easily see it, people don’t necessarily appreciate the municipal aspect of engineering. But structural…people see a nice building, and can easily appreciate the structure for all it offers. And as an engineer, I can look at a building and say, ‘I did that.’ One day, I want to be able to take my kids and say, ‘see that building? I did that,’ just like my dad used to do with the land he surveyed.”
On his way
Thanks to a co-op work term with the Halifax Port Authority, David’s already been given the opportunity to begin working on the first legacy project of his young engineering career: the design and construction of a stairway and fire escape for the large grain elevator located in Halifax’s south end.
It’s a project that was entirely his — from start to finish — that had him developing the preliminary design, preparing the project for construction tender, responding to questions from bidding contractors, and ultimately selecting the winning bidder to construct the project. A big job for a young engineer.
“The Port of Halifax likes to give their co-op students a project to own during their work term. The current fire escape at this particular tower at the grain elevator was just a ladder and a window. So there was definitely a need for something new,” he shares.
“[Through co-op,] I’m getting exposure to so many different things. I’m really given a lot of freedom to learn. I come in every day and learn something new.”
Learning about himself
“I’d say the experience has changed a little bit of my work ethic. It’s made me more driven to work hard and focused in my ability to learn. In school, I learn because it’s what we’re made to do. In this case, at work, I really want to learn.”
While David had hopes of seeing his fire escape completed before the end of his eight-month work term, the project faced a few delays. He was, however, able to successfully see his work through to the start of its construction. While final installation will take place after he begins his second eight-month co-op work term with a new employer, he knows he’ll always have the satisfaction of being able to see the finished product, in his Halifax neighbourhood no less, and know that he was instrumental in making it happen.
The grain elevator tower, pre-construction of the fire escape. (David Idemudia)
Construction of new fire escape. (David Idemudia)