Engineers across B.C. are mourning the loss Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi, the Port Coquitlam man who died along with his wife and son when a Ukrainian Airlines flight crashed leaving Tehran this week.
During his time in the industry, the 48-year-old Iranian University of Science and Technology alum was employed by several Metro Vancouver firms and worked on some of the region's biggest infrastructure projects, including the Evergreen Extension of SkyTrain's Millennium Line.
He also served as a mentor and advisor to many students trying to break into the field.
Queenie Wong, an assistant utilities engineer with the city of Delta, said Ebnoddin-Hamidi helped her land her first job through a co-op placement just as she was graduating from UBC more than a decade ago. The experience working with a company building a drainage tunnel in Hong Kong helped her as she entered the industry, she added.
"That was one of my first jobs," Wong told The Tri-City News. "I was just out of school and he helped me a lot along the way."
The two reconnected a few years later when they were both employed by SNC-Lavalin doing work on the Canada Line.
"I was quite shocked to hear the news," she said. "You never think something like that would happen. It was very tragic."
Samson Lee, a bridge engineer with Vancouver consulting firm Hatch Ltd., said he also received his first job placement through Ebnoddin-Hamidi. He added that while they never worked directly together, Ebnoddin-Hamidi was well liked and respected in the industry.
"I saw him around the workplace and [we] talked casually," he said. "I can tell he was a very well-loved person among the team we worked in. He was definitely a personable and good colleague to work for."
Lee credits Ebnoddin-Hamidi for helping him land his first job.
"I guess without him hiring me, I would not be where I am now," he said, noting he knows of at least four other UBC students who got their first job placements through Ebnoddin-Hamidi.
While different engineering contracts took Ebnoddin-Hamidi around the world, he was also involved in several projects closer to home.
During his time at SNC-Lavalin, he worked on the construction of the Evergreen Extension and participated in a tour of the tunnel with local elected officials and community leaders before the line opened.
"I remember having a conversation with him about the challenges of getting foreign credentials," said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who took part in the tunnel tour. "He was of course foreign trained. He worked hard to finally get back into his field."
Stewart knew the family previously through their volunteering with local Iranian civic groups, which organized all-candidates meetings during elections.
"They were really passionate about trying to make sure that Iranian Canadians had every opportunity to be fully engaged in the democracy that they had chosen to move to," he said. "If I immigrated to another country, I would want my family to be like their family — to really be an integral part of the community and work on supporting their fellow countrymen in that same goal. It is something they were passionate about and they will be missed."