WCW Member Profile – Gord Putz

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile -Gord Putz is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Geological Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan.  

Gord PutzName: Gord Putz
Company/City: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Position: Professor in the Department of Civil and Geological Engineering

Core Function:

I teach undergraduate and graduate classes; conduct research in sanitary and environmental engineering; and manage the admissions and the administration of graduate programs in the Department of Civil and Geological Engineering.

Born and raised:

Born in Regina, I was primarily raised in Moose Jaw (grade 2 to grade 12).


  • Water Sciences Technology Diploma, Saskatchewan Institute of Applied
  • Arts and Sciences, 1973
  • B.Sc., Civil Engineering, University of Alberta, 1980
  • M.Sc., Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta, 1983
  • Ph.D., Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta, 1996

A typical day on the job:

I have teaching and administrative duties, and I’m expected to develop and maintain an active research program. A typical day includes some or all of the following activities:

  • Presentation of one or two lectures;
  • Responding to undergraduate and graduate student questions on lecture materials, assignments, and term projects;
  • Advising graduate students regarding their research projects;
  • Responding to graduate admissions inquiries and administration issues;
  • Reviewing research reports and papers;
  • Writing research reports/papers in collaboration with graduate students and research partners;
  • Meeting with research partners; and
  • Attending administrative and planning meetings within the Department, College and University.

Views on current position:

I enjoy the freedom of an academic position. I can pursue my own research interests, manage my own time and set my own goals. I like working with and mentoring engineering students. I attend graduation and convocation every year and take a great deal of pride in seeing each new group of engineering graduates enter the profession.

History in the industry:

First, I worked at the Alberta Research Council and the University of Alberta in research support positions. After completing my master’s degree I worked for several years in industry as a project engineer on water and wastewater engineering studies and infrastructure projects. Then I joined the U of S over 26 years ago.

Main challenges in current position:

Student enrolment in the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan has grown enormously over the past four to five years. It has been a challenge to maintain a close relationship between students and educators, and hands-on laboratory/practicum based programs that have been strengths of the programs within the College of Engineering at the
University of Saskatchewan. With the assistance of many industry partners and practicing engineers that provide valuable input into our programs and mentorship to our students, we are meeting those challenges.

Career highlights:

I’ve received a few awards and honours including Fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, NSERC Synergy Award as a member of the FORWARD research project and WEF 4S Society. I’ve been the technical program chair/co-chair at the last three WCW Conferences held in Saskatoon, and I have enjoyed this role enormously. Perhaps more significantly, I’ve contributed to the training of approximately 1,700 engineering students who have passed through my classes over the years.

Advise on having a successful career:

Seek out positions that are challenging, enjoyable (but not necessarily everyday) and rewarding intellectually. Take every opportunity to continue learning and developing (old dogs can learn new tricks). Work with others from a variety of disciplines. There is a lot more to success than simple financial reward.

Time away from work:

I like to relax and unwind on weekends – nothing extravagant though. I enjoy watching movies and listening to music, attending concerts and plays and having dinner with friends or family. If the Riders are playing I never miss a game, although over the past season I did not find that activity particularly relaxing.

My hero:

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of strong mentors who have influenced me over my career. In particular, I credit Dr. Dan Smith of the University of Alberta who has been my friend and mentor for over three decades. Dan has made an incredibly strong contribution to research and the development of water and wastewater engineering education at the U of A and in Canada as a whole. I’ve always strived to emulate his work ethic, professionalism and dedication to the engineering profession. I am very proud to be one of several of his former Ph.D. students who currently teach at universities in Canada.