Roy Brander – WCW Member Profile

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile – Roy Brander

Roy BranderName: Roy Brander
Position: Senior Infrastructure Engineer
Organization: Water Resources, City of Calgary
Born and Raised: Calgary, Alberta

Education/Training

Degrees in Civil Engineering (1980), Computer Science (1985) both at the University of Calgary.

History in the industry and as a WCW member

I’ve had the unique privilege of being able to keep up participation in both of my professions, Civil Engineering and Information Technology, for my whole career with the City of Calgary, Water Resources.   After starting as a structural engineer and going back to school after the economic downturn in Calgary in 1982, I started at the then-Waterworks department as their IT Coordinator in 1989.

In the course of my IT work, I discovered that our largest gain from computing was in what would later be called “asset management” – tracking our thousands of kilometers of buried pipes, valves, and services, and optimizing our replacements to just those with good cost/benefit.

After several years, I was promoted to Senior Infrastructure Engineer in 1997. In that capacity, I managed various capital programs, including water main replacement and a new proactive program of installing cathodic protection to metallic water mains and copper service lines.  However, I also continued with IT responsibilities and built our GIS databases. That included capturing every linear asset and designing the new drafting system that made every CAD drawing operation a database input that allowed conversion to GIS.  The drafting system is now in its 17th year of operation and has been responsible for drawing 1500 km of the water network, nearly a third of the city.

I also helped develop our pipeline inspection program with Alberta-based technology.  We were an early adopter of condition assessments on water mains and we have one of the most-inspected water systems on earth, with some 300 electromagnetic inspections of our metallic pipes exceeding 100km.

Typical day

Front line interaction with citizens, typically answering questions about water main breaks or other assets and when we plan to do work in their area.

Act as a Subject Matter Expert both from an asset management and technology standpoint.

Making modifications to the drafting software (and personally testing it) and communicating this to users.

Helping to train Engineers and EITs with a selection of our asset management programs.

Working on cost/benefit justification for new asset management programs, such as pipe lining versus open-cut replacement.

Maintaining the GIS database and our R&D server and calculating the current inspection and work-history evaluation of every main and service.

Job Satisfaction

The opportunity to work with different kinds of pipe network problems and enabling other Engineers with customized information technology.

Main challenges

After 20 years of work assembling databases and installing a $10M enterprise-asset-management system to track every job and inspection, we now have the data to evaluate the work history and condition of nearly every asset.  What we still haven’t really nailed down: what are our service standards?  What risks are tolerable?  How do we value the need for service against the need to support growth, and the need to mitigate risk?

Advice

Don’t learn to do any one thing; study two or three disciplines if you can.  The most indispensable people are the ones that can bridge divides – between engineering and IT in my case, perhaps between engineering and medicine, or public relations, or financial services, in yours.

Time away from work

I love to cycle and run through Stanley Park, across the street from my new home in Vancouver, where we are retiring.  And I’m rebuilding my whole GIS mapping system with free software that anybody can have.

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