The Road Less Traveled

Milton arrived in Calgary at a time when the province of Alberta was experiencing an oil boom. Whether the Middle East oil embargo was a primary motivator or not, Alberta’s oil companies were primed to capitalize on the U.S need for a reliable source of oil. Money from oil royalties was pouring into government coffers, migration was in full swing and as a result infrastructure projects were plentiful. 

Within two weeks of arriving in Calgary, Milton began working with UMA Engineering where he got his first exposure to transportation engineering, despite having an inclination towards structural design.   The city was a buzz with roadway projects and one in particular; the Deerfoot Trail freeway project caught his attention. 

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“At that time, I was fascinated by the work being done by Reid Crowther and Partners in Calgary.  One of their big projects was a six-mile stretch of freeway with several interchanges in the south east part of the city.  I decided to join the company and they soon got me involved in the geometric design of the Southland Drive interchange. It was the first major hands-on design project that I took on,” recalls Milton.

Milton found some good mentors at Reid Crowther and began learning what he calls “the art and science” of transportation engineering.  Through his mentors he quickly learned the many challenges that each project presented.   To supplement this on-the-job experience, Milton decided to take post graduate courses in transportation engineering at the University of Calgary.

“It was mostly after-work courses.  The company was supportive. I just took one course at a time due to work and family commitments.  I actually had no intention of graduating with a degree. I was doing it more to gain knowledge of the transportation engineering sector,” recalls Milton.

Fast forward a few years and Milton had several years of great experience under his belt and successfully defended his Master’s thesis on vehicle turning simulations in 1992. Instead of resting on his laurels and staying in Calgary with a comfortable job, he felt the call of the West coast and joined a small engineering firm in Vancouver.  The company wanted to start up a transportation engineering department, and Milton was excited at this opportunity. Did he worry about taking such a risk?

“The risks were there – the challenging task of setting up a new department, joining a new company, living in a new and expensive city, and unbeknownst to me, a new daughter made in Calgary, born in Richmond – yes there were a lot of risks but they were for the most part well considered in the decision making process.  The opportunity was well worth the risks.  As my University supervisor and mentor said, ‘such opportunities are rare, if I were you I would go for it’,” said Milton. “My company in Calgary offered me a position in Vancouver too but I wanted a new venture.  While compensation was a factor, the venture was more appealing to me.”

The creation of Transoft Solutions was just around the corner. Through previous posts you know part of the story and in our next installment of Our Story, we’ll look at the early days of Transoft and the decisions that helped launch the company.  Read the next chapter in the link below: