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Elaine Kwan, BEng '04

Electrical Engineering | Finding the Opportunity Needle in the Data Haystack

When it comes to big data, volume is only valuable when merged with understanding.

That’s a truth that Elaine Kwan (BEng ’04, Electrical) works every day in her role as a specialist in data analytics with Hydro One Networks Inc.

Early in her career, Kwan recognized her passion for shaping reams of information into useful patterns, in order to spot trends and opportunities. Those patterns and trends provide a path for improving operations and making processes more efficient and reliable.

“I love what I do,” she says. “Data visualization combines my love for visual arts to interpret data into meaningful insights to tell a story, resulting in actions with measurable business benefits.”

While she originally came to McMaster intending to study software engineering, a shift to electrical engineering and two co-op terms in the utility industry paved a path to her career with Hydro One.

“My engineering degree was foundational in developing my critical thinking and analytical skills,” says Kwan. “And being surrounded by amazing, supportive friends at McMaster shaped me into who I am today.”

She’s settled into her role in data analytics after working in positions in Supply Chain and Procurement, Asset Management, Performance Benchmarking, Mergers & Acquisitions and Design Engineering.

Away from work, one of Kwan’s passions is travelling. She’s hiked Patagonia and Machu Picchu, walked along the Egyptian pyramids and slept under the open sky in the deserts of Jordan.

“I’ve travelled to five continents and over 30 countries,” says Kwan “I love to explore different cultures, try different foods and meet people. And once you experience it, it changes you and you’re never the same.

“Travelling gives me something that school or books can’t. It's like an endless classroom, where I can learn agriculture in Mexico, process efficiency in Japan or the history of Hinduism in India.”