Women in Construction

CCE’s Top 10 Under 40: Raya Smertina

September 1, 2023
By Peter Saunders Avatar photo
Presented by:
Raya Smertina

Photo courtesy Hatch.

This year, for the second time, Canadian Consulting Engineer launched an initiative to recognize up-and-coming consulting engineers across the country. We are now showcasing them on our website, in alphabetical order by surname.

Raya Smertina, 36, is project manager for Hatch’s ports and terminals group, based in Vancouver. Since joining the firm in 2019, the structural engineer has helped deliver more than $1.5 billion’s worth of complex, multidisciplinary infrastructure projects, working with teams across Canada and the U.S.

“I like the physicality and concrete nature—pun not intended—of building something,” she says. “My favourite structures have always been bridges and a port is like a bridge out to a ship, only more complicated. It’s basically a 3-D puzzle.”

Smertina studied civil engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) before working for Amec Foster Wheeler—later acquired by Wood—and Associated Engineering (AE).

“I was drawn to consulting engineering because that’s where the design happens,” she says. “It’s the consulting engineers who get to solve all of the issues everyone brings to the table.”

Her focus is currently on a new TransLink operations and maintenance (O&M) centre, to be built in Coquitlam, B.C. Having led delivery of the early works tender package and site civil work in 2022, she is now overseeing the project’s SkyTrain yard package delivery through the design of a road overpass, guideway approach embankment, walkways and other structures.

“It’s amazing how many disciplines go into designing a facility like this,” she says. “The teams designing track, power systems and distribution, communications and civil works have taught me a lot.”

Smertina has also been extensively involved with professional and industry organizations. She mentors young professionals (YPs), has led ACEC-BC committees across the province, contributes to the Structural Engineers Association of British Columbia’s (SEABC’s) professional development initiatives and is vice-chair of the editorial committee for Engineers and Geoscientists of BC’s (EGBC’s) Innovation magazine.

“She shows great leadership and work ethic in everything she does,” says Harvie Buitelaar, Hatch’s director of infrastructure for the Canada West and Central region. “She ensures efficient delivery of project work and nurtures long-term relationships within and outside our organization.”