Engineering has always been about choices for Rushin Khakharia. Growing up in Tanzania, Rushin was surrounded by a family of medical professionals, but he knew early on that wasn’t the occupation for him. Rushin broke the family mould by declaring he wanted to be an engineer, and from then on, it was just a matter of choosing how to achieve his goal. While completing an International Baccalaureate diploma program in India, he set his sights on pursuing post-secondary education even further from his home in Tanzania and applied to universities around the globe.
“I hadn’t decided on the type of engineering I wanted to do prior to applying to university, so I applied to and received acceptances for a few different programs in a few different countries,” says Rushin. The choices were plentiful. Rushin’s strength in academics earned him offers from prestigious institutions like University College in London. When it came time to make a decision, he chose Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo. “I was leaving everything behind in Tanzania and Canada seemed like the country that would be the best for me during and after university,” he says.
While at UW, Rushin intended on completing his co-op terms at six different companies to test out as many industries as he could. On his fourth co-op term, he came to WalterFedy. “I enjoyed the consulting side of the business and that made me want to come back for a second placement because I knew I wasn’t done learning,” he says. “During my second placement at WalterFedy, I was part of a large Public-Private Partnership (P3) project team for the redevelopment at Joseph Brant Hospital. The opportunity to continue working on that project is what made me choose to come back a third time. I was given real responsibility and gained valuable experience during my co-op terms which made my choice to return to WalterFedy an easy one.”
When he graduated and was offered a full-time job with WalterFedy, Rushin was ecstatic. “WalterFedy was exactly what I was hoping I’d find in a workplace when I decided to come to Canada,” he says. “I didn’t have family in Kitchener-Waterloo and the people at WalterFedy have become my family. I have an incredibly supportive leader in Shelley Forwell and she made me feel like an important part of the team from day one.” Rushin has since become a permanent resident and we celebrated his great news with a cake at Town Hall in 2017.
Hiring Rushin right after graduation was a great opportunity for WalterFedy too. While he loves civil engineering, he is also drawn to software engineering. He has combined his passion and skill in both on multiple occasions for the betterment of the firm. “I created a company resource planning program that we use to help project managers plan out projects and balance their short- and long-term resource needs,” Rushin explains. “We also use it to keep staff on top of project priorities, track milestones, and schedule QAs.”
What’s next for Rushin? He was recently named a Senior Associate of the firm and has zoned-in on site development as his favourite niche. His specialty is working on technically complex projects; whether the challenge is due to scale or the specific constraints of the development. While he’s lent his expertise to massive projects for General Motors, Maple Leaf Foods, and the University of Waterloo, the sky is the limit for Rushin. “A large-scale project I would love to work on is an airport because it would be incredibly challenging due to the sheer size and the technical planning that has to happen to make it all come together. It’s a sort of magic,” says Rushin. He has some lofty personal goals for his future as well. “I have worked at WalterFedy for six years and I see a real future for myself here. Now that I’m a Senior Associate, the next step is becoming a Partner.”