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Finding Your Path: Meet Gerry Petrash, Industrial Engineer

Gerry Petrash is an Industrial Engineer at Irving Shipbuilding. Prior to joining Irving Shipbuilding in 2019, he spent 19 years living and working in Sapporo, Japan as an English teacher with his wife and two children. Though he enjoyed his life and made many friends during his years in Sapporo, he knew he wanted more - in 2013, Gerry and his family decided it was time for him to pursue his lifelong interest in science and engineering.

Going back to school to study engineering at age 45 was a gamble that could have gone south in many ways but turned out to be the best decision I could have made for my family’s growth.”

While still living in Sapporo and working as a full-time teacher, Gerry began studying online to pass the prerequisite courses he needed to enroll in the Engineering Diploma Program at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus. Fast forward to 2016, and his new chapter began. Gerry and his family bought a one-way ticket back to Nova Scotia and his journey to becoming an Industrial Engineer took off. Gerry dedicated himself to his education and completed his Engineering Diploma in 2019 with three co-op work terms, his third being with Irving Shipbuilding’s Marine Fabricators in Dartmouth.

“I believe it’s important for anyone pursuing a distant dream with a family in tow to ensure that everyone gets to define their own path so that they too can cross finish lines of their own and go on to bigger challenges.”

After graduation, Gerry was offered a position on the Continuous Improvement team at Irving Shipbuilding where his skill set expanded through various projects, and his professional development continued to grow as he worked towards his Professional Engineering designation. Gerry has also integrated his environmental passion into his career by sitting on the War on Waste committee and establishing their recycling program, a project that recently reached and surpassed its target of $1M in savings.

“Irving Shipbuilding is very supportive of their employees who seek to better themselves. In my case, it was through generous support with professional membership fees, and time to prepare many experience documents, along with time to take the National Professional Proficiency Exam.”

In Gerry’s current position as Industrial Engineer, he primarily focuses on the development and tracking of performance and quality metrics for visual management, as well as creating various activities to support production for the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship program. Gerry also plans for the future Canadian Surface Combatant work scope.

“At Irving Shipbuilding, I feel like I have a front-row seat at Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.”

Now having recently celebrated the successful achievement of his Professional Engineering designation, and his third year with the company, Gerry is proud of how far he has come and is excited for what opportunities will come his way.

“Continuous Improvement applies not only to the business but to the people as well - for those willing to put in the extra work, you have great support from the company.”


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