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'I loved going to school': why building engineering was a perfect fit for this Concordian

Carmelina Borsellino, BEng 86, was inspired by her Concordia education – both inside and outside the classroom.
February 21, 2019
By Jasmin Legatos

There was never any doubt in Carmelina Borsellino’s mind – engineering was where she belonged. More specifically, building engineering

“Concordia was the only university in Montreal to offer the program at the time,” says Borsellino, BEng 86, vice-president and chief engineer of commercial property-insurance company FM Global, where she’s worked for 32 years. 

Carmelina Borsellino, BEng 86 Carmelina Borsellino, BEng 86, is vice-president and chief engineer at FM Global, a commercial property-insurance company she has worked at since graduating from Concordia.

She was hired shortly after graduating as a field engineer, evaluating clients’ facilities to asses risk and provide loss prevention solutions.

“FM Global is an insurance company with a unique capability called engineering. We don’t use actuaries,” she explains. After years of shuttling between Montreal and the firm’s Rhode Island head office, she relocated permanently in 2018 when she was promoted to the top engineering job. In her role, she sets the strategic direction of the research-based engineering.

Borsellino has a kind of decisive and focussed demeanour that’s unsurprising considering her profession. Building engineering appealed to her because it wasn’t as general as civil engineering. “I figured it would better hone my skills and knowledge; it’s more concentrated on a subject,” she says. Math and science were always her strong suits; a classic high achiever, she acknowledges the beginning of her engineering education was challenging.

“I’ve always gotten good marks, but I had to change the way I studied. That first semester was tough and unusual for me, but then I adjusted,” she says. She remembers receiving an A+ on a numerical analysis assignment. A fellow classmate expressed surprise that she, a woman, achieved that grade. Though there weren’t many women in engineering, it’s the only incident she can recall when her gender was ever brought up. “I never felt out of place in engineering.”

Linda Kenworthy and Carmelina Borsellino Borsellino (right) and fellow building engineering classmate Linda Kenworthy at a bridge-building competition during their student days at Concordia.

If the beginning of engineering was tough for Borsellino, the end was bittersweet. “I loved going to school. School was never a burden for me and I made amazing friends at Concordia that I’m still friends with today. We were in a familiar environment and were going out into the unknown.”

In her last year of her undergrad, Borsellino was appointed treasurer of the Engineering and Computer Science Association, a role that was outside her comfort zone but helped, along with her studies, to teach her skills she still leans on today.

“I think it gave me the foundation for leadership. I had to manage my time between work, school and extracurriculars so I could still be successful in what I wanted to achieve,” she says.

Borsellino encourages anyone, especially women, considering engineering to just go for it. “Engineering is a great field. It teaches you a lot of great skills and opens up a lot of doors that some other programs don’t.”

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