Two thousand, eight hundred. That’s about how many culverts Sydney James inspected during a summer that saw her driving all around Saskatchewan. As an engineering technology student at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, much of Sydney’s classroom work related directly to the experience she gained through her work placement at the Department of Highways.

“After a summer studying culverts and learning about how water flow impacts land stability, we began studying hydraulics in class,” she said. “I was able to see the impact of engineering in the real world, and then learn the science behind it.”

For Sydney, the engineering technology program is a natural fit, combining her love of the outdoors with the chance to get her hands dirty. “I’m born and raised at the lake,” she explains. “I’m outside, paddle boarding and on a boat.” After receiving a bachelor's degree in geology and spending a few years helping manage a grocery store, she began exploring a second career – one that would build on her previous experience and include links to the workplace. Now, she’s had the opportunity to see major engineering projects around Regina, learn from operations teams about road classification, discuss GIS technology with professionals, and spending a lot of time analyzing culverts.

“Saskatchewan Polytechnic is really an environment that has me striving for success. Polytechnics expect you to work – I’ve put in so much during such a short amount of time.”​