Prakash Joshi
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BC's Internationally Trained Engineers Find Balance

Like other professional regulatory bodies across Canada, decease APEGBC faces the challenge of balancing the expediency of registering internationally trained applicants while upholding academic and professional standards throughout the registration process.

Special to the Sun
Published: Saturday, physician March 01, rx 2008

Laxminarayana Chikatamarla, P.Eng. emigrated from India in 2000 with 20 years of engineering experience behind him, including senior positions in government and the mining industry. Intending to follow up his PhD from the University of British Columbia by practicing engineering in BC, he began the process of becoming registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC). With many years of professional experience under his belt, Chikatamarla was surprised at the involved nature of the registration process.


Every year, thousands of trained professionals like Chikatamarla immigrate to Canada hoping to continue their practice, only to find they face a long and sometimes frustrating process to become registered with their professional associations. Like other professional regulatory bodies across Canada, APEGBC faces the challenge of balancing the expediency of registering internationally trained applicants while upholding academic and professional standards throughout the registration process.

The registration process includes standard courses, an assessment of work experience, one year of which must be in a Canadian environment, and references from Canadian professional engineers. This Canadian experience ensures familiarity with local codes, standards, climates, and practices. For internationally trained engineers with non-accredited degrees, additional exams may be required.

"Finding a job at a professional engineering level in Canada can be difficult for a newcomer," says Gillian Pichler, P.Eng., APEGBC's Director of Registration, but adds that the association is dedicated to making the process as seamless as possible for qualified applicants. "APEGBC recognizes many international degrees as fulfilling the academic requirements for registration," Pichler notes. Academic agreements currently exist with 15 countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, Russia, and the United States.

Hailing from Uganda, Prakash Joshi, Eng.L. has been helping internationally trained engineers from all walks of life for over 30 years. He is active on several committees, loaning his perspective and experience to APEGBC and other organizations. "It takes me 30 minutes to lift a dejected applicant's spirits and get him motivated," Joshi says. "I sincerely like to help people and I'm not afraid to challenge them to think differently." He feels that many new immigrants receive mixed messages, assuming that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has verified their credentials through the initial immigration process.

"I think that Canada is the best place on earth," he insists, despite his misgivings about immigration communication.

He works actively every day to make internationally trained engineers feel the same way.

Wasi Sayedain, P.Eng. emigrated from Pakistan to Canada in 1998. Working for a professional engineer at Bell Canada, Sayedain was not obligated to be registered with APEGBC; however, he saw merit in obtaining his professional designation as a form of branding.

"A lot of work goes behind the designation, along with ethical practice; this is important to me," says Sayedain, a telecommunications engineer specializing in transport and access networks.

Sayedain found summarizing his 10 plus years of engineering experience in various industries to be frustrating, as previous colleagues, managers, and supervisors were not in their original places of employment, often making it difficult to track them down to verify his experience. While Sayedain thinks it is important to scrutinize work experience and technical competency, he found the notion of technical exams to be discouraging, "Coming to Canada for an immigrant is challenging in itself; exams add to this challenge," says Sayedain.

Sayedain offers some advice to future internationally trained applicants. "I think people can become demotivated quickly," says Sayedain. "The key is to talk to someone who has been on this path, and determine what objectively to expect."

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