Skip to main content

Ian Shrimpton, BEng '92

Civil Engineering | The Human Side of the Building Business

By its very nature, structural engineering is about the physical – the focus is the buildings and bridges that stand as a result of the technical skills of the engineer. Those physical objects inevitably touch, shape and influence the lives of people.

That impact has become one of the ways Ian Shrimpton measures the success of his career.

As Senior Vice President of Operations for WSP’s Buildings business in Canada, Ian works with teams executing work across the country. A fulfilling role requiring both business management and engineering experience, he never loses sight of the effect those projects have on people.

“Our clients give us the privilege to solve technical challenges that really change people’s lives for generations, and the people I work with solve those problems,” says Shrimpton, who earned his B.Eng. in Civil Engineering at McMaster in 1992, followed by a Masters degree in Structural Engineering, then spent the next several decades honing his technical skills.

Career highlights include working on the Sydney Tar Ponds remediation project in Nova Scotia while with another employer.

“The Tar Ponds Remediation project had enormous technical challenges, but when completed, resulted in a change that should benefit the community for a long time,” says Shrimpton. “It was a very challenging, fast-paced and demanding job, but one of the most rewarding projects I’ve been involved with.”

With his move into management, Shrimpton has discovered the joys of working with people, watching them develop new skills, as well as building successful teams.

“I didn’t anticipate how impactful it would be to me to support the career development of others,” he says. “This is among the most rewarding aspects of my work today and is definitely an ongoing career highlight.”

As a student, Shrimpton was part of the first McMaster team to compete in the ‘Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race.’ He says the experience led to relationships that lasted long beyond graduation, and he urges today’s students to find the time for extracurricular engineering events.

For students headed into a construction-related engineering job, he also emphasizes the value of spending time in the field.

“Being assigned to act as the resident inspector on several construction projects on and off for the first six years of my career was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had,” says Shrimpton. “It was also one of the most humbling, as it provided a crash course in how things really get done, and what it takes to turn those lines on a drawing into physically constructed things.”