MEngCEM 2T3 Alum Profile: Evan Wong – Draft

Evan Wong (Photo courtesy Evan Wong)

Could you introduce yourself please.
My name is Evan Wong, and I am a recent graduate of the Master of Engineering in Cities Engineering and Management (M.EngCEM) program.

What were your courses (emphasis)?
Among the six emphases offered in the program, my emphasis is ‘Resilience in Critical Infrastructure’, with a curriculum that consists of a wide spectrum of courses including strategic planning, risk management, machine learning, data analytics, policy-making, real estate development, land use, urban sustainability, project management, infrastructure engineering, and economics.

Do you recall any projects/assignments completed in your program/emphasis, which helped you build your portfolio or helped you during the interviewing process?
Reflecting my experience and academic journey at the University of Toronto, all the projects and assignments in the curriculum have played a role in assisting me with building my portfolio from industry to industry, in the short duration of eight months. I was exposed and trained with an extensive range of skillsets and domain knowledge, which are all applicable and very relevant in assisting me in diverging my endeavors towards real estate development.

Why did you decide to pursue an MEng degree at U of T?
Having practiced as an architect, after I have obtained my Master of Architecture degree, I recognized the powerful impact that our built environment places on our economies, social developments and well-being. The M.EngCEM program is a very unique platform that focuses on infrastructure engineering, policy making, urban sustainability and risk management, which are great complementary domain knowledge, skillsets and expertise to my architectural and urban planning background. And, therefore, shortly after I have become a licensed architect in the US, I have decided to join our M.EngCEM cohort in addressing the challenges facing our world as a collective, including rapid urban expansion, global population growth and climate change.

Evan Wong with his MEngCEM diploma posing in front of the Sandford Fleming Building after the graduation ceremony, November 2023 (photo provided)

As an international student, how was your experience moving to Toronto? Any suggestions for future students?
My time living and studying in Toronto has been exciting. The campus locates at the heart of the city with a wide range of architecture – the distinct seasons also add another layer of charm to it. I have lived in many cities and a few countries in the past, and I would say that the vibrant arts and food scenes in Toronto are very rare—definitely worth a couple weekends off to explore and to enjoy all the city has to offer! Also if you have time during the week, you will find many surprises by taking a stroll in a beautiful afternoon along the waterfront, especially the plane spotting (the Bishop Airport is just across the water)!


What was your favourite study spot on campus?
My favorite locations to study were the Gerstein library at the Life Sciences Department, and the Eberhard Zeidler Library at the Daniels Faculty. I hope you will fall in love with the unique architecture at these locations as well!

How did your practicum go? 
I spent my practicum term with Dream, which is a leading real estate development company with $23 billion AUM in Canada, United States and Europe. Working as a member in both the ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ teams, I was very fortunate to be able to participate in a wide spectrum of tasks, projects and events that have provided me the very comprehensive exposure and experience in real estate development. This practicum with Dream has also helped me to merge my domain knowledge from my technical background with the financial and project management components in development.

Are you still working with them?
Although my practicum term at Dream has come to an end, I am still working in the real estate development industry, as this experience has assisted me in determining that real estate development is the correct career path for me.

How did knowledge gained in the Program helped you during your practicum? Does it still benefit you in your job?
Apart from the skills developed from my previous work experience and educational background within architecture and urban planning, I have also been utilizing knowledge developed from the MEngCEM Program, including policy-making, analytical reports and risk management. Prior to joining the MEngCEM program, I noticed the ‘gap’ between my skillsets and the development aspect of the industry. MEngCEM has helped me to develop the knowledge and skills required to bridge the two ‘worlds’ and enabled me to enter the development aspect of the real estate industry.

What are your plans for your future career or academic goals? 
My long term goals are to become a part of the broader effort in building resilient and sustainable urban systems when addressing the challenges facing our world as a collective, as mentioned earlier, including rapid urban expansion, global population growth and climate change. And I believe that real estate development is a big part of the equation—also the reason I have taken the initiative to transition into the development sector of the industry.

Any suggestion(s) for future international MEng students?
Coming from a multicultural and multi-disciplinary background, I believe the well-rounded skillsets and domain knowledge integrated in the M.EngCEM program offer our candidates the rare opportunities to explore in many different industries. I would suggest our future candidates to keep an open mind and to not be afraid to experiment, especially given the unique combination of courses and the comprehensive curriculum.

Can we get an inspiring quote from you in closing? 
Definitely ‘work hard; play hard’!

By Galina Nikitina