Our alumni: where are they now?

December 22, 2015

Nick Pizzacalla (B.A.Sc. Engineering Science, '15)  

New graduate Nick Pizzacalla (’15) has hit the ground running. As an Electrical Engineer in Training (EIT) with engineering giant SNC Lavalin—where he completed his co-op work placement—Pizzacalla is installing crucial electrical services for metro Vancouver’s rapid transit Evergreen Line, slated for opening in 2017. Last month, Pizzacalla watched the tunnel-boring machine (named Alice, after Canada’s first female geologist) make its breakthrough, marking the much-awaited completion of the project’s underground section.

We caught up with Pizzacalla, the former president of the Engineering Science Student Society, to find out more about his new career, and the beauty of well-concealed electrical components.

What have you been up to since graduation?

“I’ve been working on three of the Evergreen Line train stations: Coquitlam Central Station, Inlet Centre Station, and Moody Centre Station, where I spent a large majority of the time.

My team and I are responsible for the electrical services within the station itself. This includes all the machinery, mechanical equipment, lights, cameras, sensors, and even those new fare gates we have to start using!

For Moody Centre Station, one of my first tasks was designing a temporary service—including cameras, ticket machines and lights—to allow the West Coast Express train platform to continue running while the new station was built right beside it. It was a decent challenge, but thankfully it worked!

The most challenging part is routing the conduit and cables and making sure all the equipment has power and/or communications – even items as small as a wall plug or the flashing emergency lights.

Coordination is required between all disciplines: architectural, structural, systems, mechanical, and electrical. While this is the most challenging aspect, it is also the most rewarding.

Walking through a station and knowing that the concrete slab beside you has all the conduits to power the lights, camera, and action on the floor above—hidden nicely, of course—is awesome.”

What is the best thing about your new role?

“I am really enjoying the opportunities that working at such a large, but collaborative, company affords me. I have worked with the Ports and Marine Group designing electrical services for ferries and boat ramps/berths, the Airport Group designing runway lighting and electrical kiosks, and all sorts of other ‘small’ side projects.

Another thing I enjoy most relates back to the Evergreen Line, as we recently did a site review at the stations. Being able to see the designs and layouts that we worked on come to fruition, and actually work, is extremely rewarding. Just like when your code finally works an hour before the deadline for that massive semester-end class project; it’s bliss. And I know we’ve all been there!”

What’s happened in your life since you graduated from SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences? We would love to hear from you. Send us your updates to: fascomms@sfu.ca and “like” us on Facebook.

You can also update your information with the SFU Alumni Association.