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Environmental Protection Technology Diploma Alumnus
When Chris McCue was a teenager and first thought about conservation, he imagined "some guy counting caribou up north, sitting by a stream collecting water samples."
Kwantlen's Environmental Protection Technology program appealed to him. That was in 1992, when the program was offered at the brand-new Richmond campus of what was then Kwantlen College.
"My dad was a counsellor at Richmond High School. This was pre-Internet so he had pamphlets and he brought me this Kwantlen College brochure," says Chris. "I was already interested in conservation so I decided to go for it."
He enrolled in the EPT program, and while he didn't end up counting caribou, Chris did learn a lot about water treatment and contaminated site remediation, and made life-long friends and colleagues.
"We had wonderfully small classes. There was 20 of us that went into the program. The 20 of us would work together; we'd do group projects together. With a group of 20 you always end up getting to know everybody very well so we ended up being a very good team."
After graduation, Chris worked for an environmental consulting firm cleaning up contaminated sites where he noticed a gap—no one was locally building remediation systems. So he started his own company to fill that market niche. His career path in many ways anticipated where Kwantlen Polytechnic University was going, an institution driven by industry needs and engaged with the community.
Today, Chris is founder and president of the award-winning McCue Engineering Contractors. In operation for over 17 years, the company cleans contaminated water and land, restoring them to a healthy ecosystem.
Chris's team consists of engineers and technicians who bridge the gap between engineering design and construction know-how.
And one of the first places he looks to hire from is KPU.
"I have a standing offer with KPU's co-op program," says Chris. "If anybody in the program has trades experience, that's the person I want to hire. Somebody who has the education in environment and the background in trades because that's what we need in our company."
Chris' commitment to KPU and looking to his alma mater first for recruiting talent goes back years. His health and safety manager, Russell Thompson, is a fellow alumnus and graduate of KPU's EPT program in 2010. A year out of the program, Russell found Chris on the alumni webpage and saw that he was looking to hire an EPT grad with construction experience.
Russell has been with McCue Engineering Contractors for six years now, and just this past fall was a guest speaker for the EPT program's health and safety course on how to foster a culture of safety in the workplace.
"Two KPU students are working for us currently," says Chris. "I think the program is even better now than when I took it. I know what the capability of the graduates of the program are. They have hands-on skills from the school itself and they have the co-op experience.
A KPU Distinguished Alumnus, Chris remains connected to the university as a member of the Environmental Protection Technology program's advisory committee, and continues to lend advice and mentor future leaders in environmental protection.
His company also funds a scholarship for students in the EPT program.
He may not be sitting by a stream collecting water samples, but Chris is instrumental in saving the environment and helping the KPU community, one contaminated site and one student at a time.