An exciting career change with civil engineering


- Ivan Watson

Solomon Rosenberg.

When it comes to pursuing one’s passion through education, it’s never too late to start—and learning as a mature student offers many professional advantages, according to Solomon Rosenberg, who returned to school at 35 to pursue his undergraduate degree in civil engineering. Now graduating, he couldn’t be happier with his decision to forge a new career path at UVic.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me: is it too late now to go back to school after being out of formal education for several years?” he says. “I tell them—now that I’ve gone through it myself—you can go back any time, because if you’re committed to it, you will be welcomed and valued for your experience and you’ll appreciate the program much more and not take any of it for granted.”

Rosenberg had married at 18, right out of high school, and lived and worked for many years on the mainland. He and his wife raised two kids, and for many years he worked in a number of different careers, including as a trained photographer. When his kids became teenagers, his wife encouraged him to consider following his passion for building things. Civil engineering was the natural fit and UVic was the top choice, as the couple had first met in Victoria in 2002.

Rosenberg began his studies in Engineering at UVic during the pandemic, initially taking all of his courses online. “The virtual stuff was an easy transition for me back into education, especially with family responsibilities at home, and gave me opportunities to focus on learning,” he recalls. “Now that I’m graduating and think back about the program, I’m realising just how well-rounded it’s been, with many opportunities to learn about different areas. I’ve gotten interested in building science, structures, water and utilities—areas I’d never considered before. A key advantage of the program is that if you want to learn about different aspects of civil engineering, the opportunities are there for you to do that because it’s really hands on.”

Expanding his breadth of engineering knowledge and skills was aided by the personalized touch to education that he found at UVic.

What I really like about it here at UVic is that you know your professors fairly well and if you run into them on campus, they know you by name. I’ve spoken to students at other universities where there are hundreds of people in a class and they feel lost in a crowd. Here at UVic, it’s the right-sized school for fostering a good learning environment with a personal approach, while big enough to have earned real stature as a university so that your UVic degree really means something.

—Solomon Rosenberg

In his spare time, Rosenberg likes to do renovations and tinker in his home workshop. These hands-on skills proved invaluable when he undertook three mandatory co-op terms as part of the civil engineering program.

“For me the biggest advantage with co-op is that you get to work on projects that people will see and enjoy, and I really love that,” he says. “I worked on a project on Beacon Avenue in Sidney during my co-op with Gwaii Engineering, doing regrading and moving and adjustments of the sidewalks, drains and planters to satisfy the municipal plan. Every time I drive by that corner, I have to point it out to my wife and kids, who think it’s hilarious. But what makes civil engineering special is seeing the results of your efforts all around you—in the community where you live and work.”

His other co-op terms all took place at UVic, which provided ample opportunities for Rosenberg to take advantage of the broad range of lab facilities throughout the university.

I enjoyed the three co-op placements at UVic because of the hands-on nature of the work. I got to work with a hammer, problem solve, do research testing for grad students and work across a number of labs, such as the concrete and construction labs. I really liked being able to do a little bit of everything and learn by doing, and UVic has a lot of different facilities that you can work in. I recommend co-op to every student I talk to, and point out that they can do meaningful co-op placements right here in the university.

—Solomon Rosenberg

After graduation, Rosenberg will start his new job as a laboratory technologist at UVic, in the civil engineering department. His role will be to help professors and grad students conduct structural research. In the future, he plans to pursue graduate studies, having rediscovered a passion for education as a mature student at UVic, and aims to specialise in the areas of mass timber, either structurally or in terms of related construction and environmental aspects.

“Going back to school in my mid-thirties was definitely the right choice for me—I really want to emphasize that,“ he says. “I like learning and I enjoy what I’m doing now—it’s hands-on, results-oriented and I just love it. I know too that my runway is still quite long for having an exciting and successful career ahead as a civil engineer.”

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In this story

Keywords: convocation, student life

People: Solomon Rosenberg

Publication: The Ring

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