2016-2017 Activity Updates

A Busy 2016

The year started with requests for seminars in the East and Central Canada.
DFS activities continued at a great pace in 2016. A request from Manitoba for a custom designed seminar on overall quality management allowed Ben Novak to introduce a “Quality Matrix” to the local association. The workshop/seminar was
prepared with the participation of the local training committee.


Andy Steeves led workshops on “How Consulting Engineers Make Money” to YP groups in Ottawa in April and Kitchener-Waterloo in November. A full-day set of seminars for ACEC-NL is planned in St. John’s in April of 2017.
More recently John Boyd was invited to present a talk on “Sustainability” to senior
engineering students at the University of New Brunswick in
November. Andy introduced John to a crowd of approximately 120
students and faculty. His talk was well-received.

University Activity

Andy continued his involvement at UNB as Engineer-in-Residence where he mentored student groups on their senior design projects and provided lectures on engineering management and business practices.
Ben also recently gave a short pro bono seminar on career
planning, based partly in the DFS “career planning” module, to a
group of graduating engineering students at Carlton University in
Ottawa. More activity with graduates is expected.

The China Program

John Ritchie and John Boyd were both busy with the FIDIC China
Project, which resulted in some 500 Chinese engineers being
awarded the title of “FIDIC Consulting Engineer” after completing
intensive seminars covering the ‘FIDIC Body of Knowledge’,
essentially the content of the FIDIC Guide to Practice and the
series of standard contracts offered by the international body.
You may recall that both Robin Crouch and Ben were involved in
the complete re-editing recently. FIDIC is the acronym for the International Federation of Consulting Engineers.


The YPMTP (FIDIC) Program

Robin and Andy continued their roles in the ‘Young Professionals
Management Training Program’ sponsored by FIDIC. This year the
program involved a series of webinars and online workshops as
well as an intensive face-to-face series of lectures and a major
project held in Marrakech, Morocco. Ben was involved in its
development and delivery for the nine previous years.

The ACEC White Paper

Following our presentation of the White Paper on Training to ACEC
(Canadian association of consulting engineering companies), we
also expect developments in the webinar field. The study, led by
Ben, identified cost of attendance for seminars, both on actual
fees and time involved in travel, is an issue. This favors on-
line delivery. An initial module may be based on our custom (for
Canadian firms) prepared Integrity Management module.


Plans call for Business Sessions to be proposed, for an
international audience of young professionals and others in the design industries. This has been in initiated by a preliminary proposal includung an overview of the FIDIC Guide to Practice. It is noted that there is significant interest in business principles among young professionals and professionals entering the consulting industry, to build a career. This interest extends to understanding the financial model of a consulting operation, including project control and management, as well as human resources practices and eventual ownership. Keep reading our blog for developments.

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Special DFS In-house Seminar Successfully Completed.

This half-day seminar was a custom in-house session recently requested by an Eastern Canadian consulting firm of about 100 employees in 4 offices. Some 30 participants heard DFS Partner Andy Steeves presenting project management principles and case studies in an interactive half-day face to face format. It was enthusiastically received.

Here are a few quotes form the DFS supplied Evaluation Sheet:

“For general overview, it was just the right length” –  “… very much liked the informal demeanor” – Excellent information” – “Very informative and well-presented”- “Presenter was very knowledgeable and …able to relate and provide real-life experience to the topic”

DFS available series of over 25 modules on various subjects were also discussed, and interest was shown for Time Management, Business Development and Risk Management. These topics are understandably key issues for consulting firms

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Novel Web-based Exams

DFS pioneers web-based exams for webinar courses. DFS developed a novel way for time-limited exams using a webinar platform with mail-back responses. The approach ensures complete confidentiality among participants and allows lecturers to quickly mark results. Participants are individually informed of results

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DFS and FIDIC (International association of consulting engineers) collaborate

This is a first for both FIDIC and DFS. Proposed by DFS, FIDIC agrees to host webinars on sustainability, expressly for design professionals. The summary is below. You should visit the quoted website for syllabus and registration conditions.

20 October, 2015 – 09:00
Type: Online
Language: English
Price: 290.00 €
Fees: FOR ALL 4 WEBINARS Full price 360€ – Early bird 290€ ( Before 20th September 2015)
Organiser/DFS partner: FIDIC

– See more at:


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More progress 2014/2015

The DFS team made significant progress in 2014 – and it has continued into 2015. A significant milestone was the successful implementation of the joint ACEC Canada-DFS Contract Seminars. These Seminars were well-received with good reviews, and continuing demand. Preparing these Seminars required extensive work including studying comments by a member organization task force on frequent problem issues and by analysing a contract format developed by a member organization specific to municipal works. The DFS lead on this project was Ben Novak. It should be noted that issues raised in both works are well covered in the ACEC document series on which the courses are based.
DFS members have also been invited to be judges in design and award competitions and other related activities including the annual Canadian Design Build Institute awards program.
A proposal to ACEC Canada by new DFS partner John Ritchie, (see CV below)for the preparation of a series on Integrity Management was accepted along with a printed guide to handle this complex subject. The first part of the mandate was completed in early 2015. Seminars on the subject will be offered along similar lines as the Contract series. John Ritchie and John Boyd also completed training in China through FIDIC sponsored seminars.
During the 2014 DFS partners participated in on-line and in-person teaching sponsored by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC). The culmination of this program came at the 2014 Rio Annual Meeting of FIDIC where a DFS proposed exam was tested on the student body. This helped to identify levels of participation and to measure the results of the annual program offered by FIDIC. DFS partner, Andrew Steeves was selected by FIDIC to participate in the YP (young professionals) program replacing long-time FIDIC mentor, Ben Novak who retired after nine years in the YP programme. Robin Crouch, DFS European partner is also part of this YP program.
During 2014 DFS partners, Novak and Crouch, co-authored the revised abridged Guide to Practice with Danish consultant Steen Frederiksen. This Guide is intended for emerging consulting engineers and will be published and sold by FIDIC and used as a text in the YP program.
In line with creating courses and webinars on the subject of Sustainable Development, DFS has submitted a successful proposals for a series of seminars – possibly including tests to certify successful completion. This initiative will be led by DFS partner Robin Crouch.

John Ritchie CV
John Ritchie is a Civil Engineer with more than 40 years of experience with hydropower and water resources in Canada and Asia. Concurrently he acquired 10 years of experience in design and implementation of anti-corruption compliance programs, for major engineering firms and engineering projects. He has served on the Board of Directors of two Canadian consulting engineering associations, and of the Canadian Hydropower Association. He is currently a member of the Integrity Management Committee of FIDIC, and is on the Boards of Directors of a Canadian hydro-based electric power utility, BC Hydro, and of Transparency International Canada.

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2013 Activity in Toronto and the Maritimes

Dr. John Boyd gave two hour-long presentations at two separate events for the Young Professionals’ group in Ontario.  He also continues his U of T course on sustainability for engineers.  The class size is limited to 50 this year. This makes for a good group who are intensely interested in the subject.  Workshop activities are interspersed with lectures and that is working very well.

Andy Steeves recently gave seminars to an ACEC-NB group. There were over 20 registrants, well above the target attendance.  Attendees were from NB and PEI.

Ben Novak continues to deliver group seminars on the various steps of design-build project delivery as seen from the consultant’s viewpoint. The next session will be in Markham (Torornto) in early April. Consult the CDBI website for details.

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Quebec City and Montreal Young Engineering Professionals (YPs) Seminars

In late November and early December Ben Novak also presented very popular evening seminars (over 100 participants at the Montreal session) on career planning within the consulting industry also explaining the typical organizational structures of consulting firms. He ended the session with some hints on interpersonal relationship skills in the workplace, leaving the groups with references on texts and internet links. The seminars were arranged by the YP chapter of the AICQ, the local association of engineering firms.

Talks under Way to Promote ACEC Documents 31 and 32.

In the New Year we propose to stress the importance of early risk management by using approved professional services contract texts. Of course risk management has to be pursued throughout project delivery and DFS project management and filed management modules accomplish the task of explaining where the likely risk issues lie. With an increasing trend to integrated project delivery where the contractor or even the consulting firm become the client ( as in Design-Build ) an appreciation of the legal, insurance and indemnity issues becomes even more important.

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