Josh Zakala - Co-Op Spotlight


Here at Glotman Simpson, our team of creative thinkers are our foundation, including our clever co-op students.  This GS Co-op Spotlight features Josh who was part of our co-op team for 4 months this year. Read previous posts in our series here and here.

Here is what Josh had to say in our interview:

Where are you going to school?

University of Victoria

What made you interested in structural engineering? 

I was always interested in buildings and bridges as a kid – I was always fascinated when we would drive around town, my face would be pressed up against the car window looking up at the tall buildings and architecture. Since then, I knew I wanted to be a part of a team that could create something spectacular.

What made you want to do a co-op with Glotman Simpson? 

I was able to work with James Macauley, Associate and Victoria Lead, during the seismic design competition in early 2021. I knew the company designed unique structures with challenging demands. I wanted to be a part of a team that takes risks and steps outside their comfort zone.

What is your favourite project you have gotten to work on?

I have enjoyed working on The Butterfly and First Baptist Church project. The Butterfly’s slabs look like a cookie monster took a bite out of them (I always try to make work fun!) and, as a former national level swimmer, I would love to take a dip in the pool under the precast arches. The adjacent First Baptist Church is also unique as the upgrade has required critical thinking.

Progress Photo - The Butterfly (September 2021)

What is the best lesson you have learned while on your co-op?

Always try to take a stab at something yourself before asking for advice! You’ll have a much better learning experience tackling problems yourself rather than just immediately asking for a potential solution.

What is your most memorable experience so far and why?

Glotoberfest – one of GS’s major social events throughout the pandemic – was a great opportunity to interact with co-workers outside the technical engineering environment. Just from this social interaction, I can see why the GS team has been such a success.

How have we helped you succeed in your future goals? 

No matter how busy the project engineers and/or EITs are, they always set aside time to teach you new skills that may not have been prevalent in the school environment. As a co-op student, I gained valuable information from webinars, lunch and learns, and numerous resources and software programs provided by GS. Additionally, the rebar tours and other site visits allowed me to deepen my understanding of the shop drawing review and design.

What will you be taking away from this experience for your future? 

This co-op gave me the confidence to explore a career in structural engineering. I’m going to take the knowledge and tools I learned here and practice them in my final semester at university. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work with such intelligent and hard-working individuals.