Alumnus Story — Mustafa Khalid
Mustafa Khalid says going to grad school was always one of his goals. “I wanted to work for a few years to build my experience in industry and then return to school with a greater understanding of what I wanted to focus on,” he says.
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering in 2013, he took on roles of increasing responsibility with Kiewit, working as a project engineer on hydroelectric projects in Manitoba. The Master of Engineering Leadership in Urban Systems program appealed to his growing interest in how engineering and technology can address some of the challenges faced by today’s cities.
He was also attracted to the program for its one-year length and unique combination of technical engineering and management courses. “Doing a master of engineering degree felt too focused on technical design, and an MBA was too long,” he says. “The MEL was a good combination of the two options I was considering.”
Project-based learning mirrors work environments
Mustafa says he appreciated that the MEL classes focused on real-world problems and projects rather than academic theory.
“Dealing with complex and messy situations, managing an excessive amount of information for the time given, working in teams, communicating recommendations in front of a skeptical audience and other tasks must be learned by trial and error,” he says. “Although standard coursework is an important component of the curriculum, learning by doing is the primary pedagogical method, and ‘real-world’ projects, where students work for a community client, are at the heart of their academic experience.”
Students in the program came from many countries and diverse academic and professional backgrounds, says Mustafa, which “made it more real and similar to the experience you find in working environments.”
Taking on larger responsibilities
Mustafa is back working with Kiewit, this time in Burnaby, BC, and now in the role of assistant manager on the Trans Mountain Project. He’s taken on greater responsibility with a significant increase in project budget and scope from his previous positions with the company.
His work involves identifying project risks and developing and implementing mitigation and contingency plans, as well as helping the project team develop the pre-construction planning process and specifications.
“The MEL was absolutely worth the investment of time and money,” he says. “My new role is a natural progression in my career, but the degree certainly opened up options and opportunities.”
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