Jeff DiBattista, Civil Engineering - Class of 1993
Why did you choose your undergraduate program?
Ever since I was a toddler, I've loved building. I used to take my tricycle apart and put it back together again when I was four. I played with Legos constantly as a child. As a teenager, my father suggested I should go into engineering. I investigated Waterloo, and the rest is history!
How did you like your experience at UWaterloo?
My undergraduate experience was fantastic. Not without stresses and sleepless nights, of course, but so many great friends and great memories. There was never a doubt that I was getting a world-class engineering education at Waterloo, while having a blast playing rec sports, captaining our Concrete Toboggan team, and liberating the pool table from the Electrical Engineering 4th-year study room.
What were your favourite classes?
First-year Statics was the course that really led me to become a structural engineer. But I also loved Fluid Mechanics taught by Professor Grahame Farquhar, and Building Science and Technology taught by Professor Eric Burnett. All these years later, I still use the knowledge from these courses all the time!
How did the friends you made at UWaterloo inspire you throughout your undergraduate experience?
On my very first day in Waterloo, in September 1988, my two roommates (both Civil '93 also!) hosted a party at our apartment on Hazel Street. A beautiful Psychology major stopped in, Traci Stresman. After meeting on that very first day of undergrad, Traci and I got married in the summer of 1993, shortly after graduation. All four of our groomsmen were Waterloo engineers. Traci and I are still happily married after 28 years, and we are still friends with all of those Waterloo engineers!
Co-op work term history
What is the biggest lesson you learned from co-op?
My dream job was to work on the Welland Canal, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway system, ever since high school. I completed high school in Thorold, Ontario, where the window of my grade 13 math class overlooked a stretch of the 4th Welland Canal and I could see ships going by. Having the amazing opportunity to spend two work terms at the Welland Canal was a dream come true, and it taught me to set big goals and work to make them real. If they ever decide to build a 5th Welland Canal, I might just put in an application to work there again!
What is your occupation now?
I've had the privilege of working as a consulting structural engineer for over 20 years at DIALOG. We are a North American design practice that seeks to meaningfully improve the wellbeing of our communities and the environment we all share through the power of pre-eminent design. In December 2020, my Partners asked me to take on the role of Managing Partner. As I learn and grow in my new role, I look forward to helping all DIALOGers thrive as we work together to design a better world.
Did your undergraduate program play a role in where you are today? How?
My experience at the University of Waterloo, and more specifically in Civil Engineering, continues to play a role in my life, both personally and professionally. My life is enriched thorough my marriage, my friendships, and the application of knowledge learned at Waterloo in my everyday work.
List 3 lessons you'd like to share with the current undergraduate students.
1. Waterloo Engineering is really, really hard work...and you can thrive at it!
2. Your friendships are as important as your classes. Invest in them both.
3. As an undergrad, I don't think I appreciated how influential civil engineers can be in creating a better future for all life on this planet. Challenge the status quo, expand the art of the possible, and never stop learning. The world needs us more than ever to create a sustainable future.