Handiss Spotlight - Mohamad Hijazi

Handiss Spotlight: Mohamad Hijazi

Senior Geotechnical Engineer, P.Eng.

Mohamad is a civil engineer specialized in geotechnical, material and environmental engineering with over nineteen years of professional work experience. He kick-started his career in Lebanon in the year 2000, and five years later he moved to work in the United Arab Emirates. Later in 2012, he joined SolidEarth Geotechnical Inc. in Canada (Alberta), where he is still working today.

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Q: How did you start your career in Canada?

A: I sought an evaluation for my engineering degree, and at the same time I was applying for any vacant engineering positions that I could come across. I started my career in Canada from scratch, then I started climbing the ladder till I became a senior geotechnical engineer. After the completion of the required North American experience, I applied for the professional engineering exam and gained my professional engineer licensure.

Q: What engineering skills have you learned or improved upon working in Canada?

A: I gained North American experience, and it was quite different from my previous work experience. I become more knowledgeable about the high standards of safety, as well as the local environmental/governmental regulations and requirements. In addition to the above, I got exposed to the permafrost engineering field, and I gained experience in the design and construction of facilities in cold regions and permafrost areas. This field in particular was new for me. I also learned about the effect of frost propagation on the performance and behavior of the structural elements (pavements and foundations), and how to prevent such an effect from damaging the structures.

Q: What software packages should a geotechnical engineer be familiar with?

A: Some of the most important software packages for geotechnical engineers are:

  • Gint: most used software by geotechnical companies
  • LPile: used by a large number of geotechnical companies and piling contractors
  • CapWap: used by a large number of geotechnical companies and piling contractors
  • SlopeW: used by many geotechnical companies
  • GeoSlope: used by many geotechnical companies
  • Plaxis: used by some specialized companies (mainly tunnel designers)
  • GTilt: used for stability and monitoring companies
  • Settle3D: used mainly by large petroleum storage tank designers
Q: Did you find your previous work experience in Lebanon and the UAE beneficial when it comes to your current job?

A: Not really. Sadly, most of the engineering companies in Canada are not taking our previous experience outside North America seriously.

Q: In which of the three previously mentioned countries were you able to make more savings?

I’d say the United Arab Emirates for the following reasons: more saving, no tax, guaranteed higher salary, bigger bonus, and more benefits (transportation, accommodation, phone, airplane tickets, etc…)

Q: If you weren’t an engineer, what would you want to be doing instead?

A: I could be a school teacher, a university researcher.

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