A Q&A with an Electronic Technologist
At my office, we work on land-based Radio and/or Radar sites, large vessels when they come in for refit (such as the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier), smaller Search and Rescue (SAR) station vessels (such as the CCGS Laredo Sound at the Kitsilano Station), the two hovercrafts at Sea Island Base, and DFO/fisheries Radio systems for BC and the Yukon (located on mountain tops).
I have been fortunate to travel for work across BC, as far north as Fort St. James, as far east as Salmon Arm, as well as locations on Vancouver Island like Campbell River and Ucluelet.
I completed the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (Telecommunications and Networks Option) Diploma from BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology), and I am currently finishing up my Bachelor of Technology (specializing in electronics) at night school. Halfway through my diploma, I worked an 8-month co-op term with the Coast Guard electronics department. After my co-op, I was offered a job upon finishing my diploma.
I have been interested in electronics ever since I was young. As a child I would often take apart electronics to see how they worked, and quickly became the “tech person” in my family. I specifically went into the telecommunication options diploma because I was fascinated with fiber optics, and our world is so entwined with telecommunications that it was a no brainer for me to go into a field I was so passionate about.
“The great part about my job is that there is no such thing as a typical day at work.”
I am of the mind that the Canadian Coast Guard operates as one big team, nationwide. Operations relies on us to maintain equipment on vessels and across the country so that they can focus on their job and not have to worry about their equipment failing. If I don’t make sure everything is working properly, they can’t do their work and provide services. Because people's lives are potentially at stake, you cannot take chances.
Our fleet relies on radar for navigation, for example, the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, which travels to the Arctic and Haida Gwaii. We employ land radars (like the one we are putting on Bowen Island) for Marine Traffic Control, which allows our Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) operators to see what types of vessels are entering and exiting Vancouver, Prince Rupert, and other harbours. We utilize our radios to communicate with other vessels, with MCTS centres, for vessel Automatic Identification System (AIS), and for Continuous Marine Broadcast (CMB) transmissions up and down the coast.
“I am extremely fortunate to have many amazing co-workers across the Western region, who mentor me, impart their knowledge and share their tricks.”