As part of Science Odyssey, we are interviewing a variety of STEM innovators to investigate pathways into STEM and to discuss the future of STEM learning and careers.
James Higgins is a member of ASTTBC as a Building Science Technologist in the research, energy, and forensics group at RDH, formally known as RDH Building Science Labs. His works varies across a lot of projects, from hands on laboratory and field testing and data collection, to investigations for litigation support, computer thermal and hygrothermal modelling, graphics and design work, to producing industry guideline documents.
My aim across all the work I do is to integrate building science fundamentals with new research and testing findings. This way RDH can continue as a leader in the building science field.
What sparked your interest and eventual career in science and technology?
My interest in building enclosure technology specifically began with my work as a restoration technician, working on buildings that had suffered severe damage. I got the chance to take them apart piece by piece and layer by layer so they could be repaired. I found the various assemblies very interesting. I attended BCIT and completed the Architectural & Building Engineering Technology program, and I discovered building science was a field I wanted to pursue. I began working in the industry immediately after graduation.
What role does mentorship play in engaging youth in STEM?
I think it is one of the main pathways for youth to discover the various careers and work that come from STEM. It can offer guidance for pursuing various career goals, and it can be an opportunity to share with youth the passion and enthusiasm that the people who working in STEM have, especially for the cool projects that occur on a daily basis.
Did you have a mentor who supported you in your education/career pathway?
My current boss at RDH is also my mentor. I met him while still in BCIT, and I completed my final project in partenership with RDH, as well as a practicum. He offered excellent insight into my opportunities in the building science field and at RDH, and was one of the main reasons I chose to work at RDH.
What did you want to be when you were small? Did you plan your current career path?
I originally planned to become a carpenter as I have a love for buildings and I find the construction industry fascinating. I then planned to pursue architecture, but found the building science courses at BCIT really cool, and something that I excelled at. I decided to pursue a career in building science not long after starting at BCIT.
What do you think the future of STEM looks like in BC?
I think BC has the opportunity to be a world leader in developing new energy efficient approaches to all the things we do, use, and build. At RDH for example, we are becoming the leading resource for projects involving building energy efficiency, both in new construction and in retrofits to existing buildings. Having strong STEM learning and career opportunities/paths is vital for this type of work.
What is Science World’s role in promoting and supporting STEM learning and careers in BC?
I think the way that Science World makes science cool is a fantastic approach to engaging young people. They can see the tangible effects a career in STEM could have, and begin to think about their own career choices.
The Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC is the model association for technology professionals. They serve the public by regulating and supporting technology professionals' commitment to a safe, healthy, and sustainable society and environment.
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What's happening today for Science Odyssey?
Check out our Facebook Live event Elevator Science, between 12–1pm