During the winter of 2022, an amazing opportunity came my way as a co-op student who thrives in expanding her connections and skills in GIS. I landed a position to work at Bruce Power as a GIS Development Student for an 8-month work term. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, Bruce Power is a nuclear power plant that accounts for 30% of Ontario’s power (Bruce Power, n.d.). The facility is licensed to operate two nuclear generating stations; Bruce A and Bruce B (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, 2023). The Bruce Power site is set within the traditional lands and treaty territory of the people of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) (Bruce Power, n.d.). My time with Bruce Power enhanced my skills with various GIS applications, and I met some amazing people along my 8-month journey! Please note that due to confidentiality and security reasons, discussions of projects will be done so in a broad manner.
The GIS Development Student position was brought to my attention through OSCARplus – McMasters online platform for co-op students to engage in job opportunities and services. After applying for the position, an interview offer was sent my way and shortly after an acceptance offer followed. I worked under the Property Management and Site Services Department. In this role, my purpose was to support the development of the GIS program at Bruce Power by creating tangible applications for those in our department and around the company. I was working together and building relationships with various Bruce Power groups such as the Transportation, Environment, and Facilities department and even groups in the stations like Nuclear Operators and Shift Managers.
The Esri products that I worked with include ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, Survey123 Connect, Web AppBuilder, and Dashboards. Some examples of projects that were created on my end include the following: Road Closure App, Parking App, Bruce Power Site App, Facility Condition Index Dashboard, Laydown Area Permit Form On Survey123 Connect, Road Closure Form on Survey123 Connect and many more. Aside from the application creation process, these projects involved me working closely with the team leads of each project to discuss the outcomes of the project and to overcome any issues that may arise during the process. Other technical programs such as PowerBI and PyCharm were also involved. In one way or another, these programs were integrated with GIS applications. For example, if a particular function could not be efficiently run in ArcGIS Pro or a dataset had to be cleaned up, then ArcGIS Pro was connected to PyCharm through ArcPy (Python site package) in order to complete the task.
Over the second half of my work term, I was introduced to the world of Asset Management. I was taught about decision-making frameworks and practices to promote safety, reliability and regulatory requirements for various Bruce Power assets. For example, I was responsible for overseeing the water main data to make sure it was up-to-date and accurate. This was done by working closely with the engineers that were familiar with its CAD drawings, and even observed drawings on my end to highlight disparities that were found. This information was conveyed through a WebApp as well.
I also continuously looked for ways to develop my soft skills such as interpersonal, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving and attention to detail. By doing so, I believe I became more capable, competent, and confident in myself and my performance to deliver what was needed successfully.
Aside from work-related activities, I had amazing opportunities that came my way. Among 75 students, I was selected as one of the students to be featured in the Bruce Power Student Spotlight Program and promoted on various social media platforms by the company. I had professional headshots taken and was asked to speak on my decision to work with Bruce Power, hopeful achievements, and advice for incoming students which are all highlighted in the “Meet our Students” section on the company website.
Another phenomenal opportunity was when I was asked to present a safety moment at Bruce Power’s annual Executive Panel Discussion in front of fellow students and company executives, including the CEO and President of Bruce Power – Michael W. Rencheck.
As a part of the NAYGN team at Bruce Power, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce over the summer to help build a house on the traditional territory for the people of Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON). I also volunteered to supervise and provide a tour during the annual Take Our Kids to Work Day on-site for Grade 9 students.
I always kept myself busy in fun ways and through that, I was able to make some awesome friends along the way and great professional connections by putting my name out there. I am thankful for the opportunities that came my way from my team leaders and other people in the company, because of them I was able to grow and thrive as a student in a demanding industry.
Bruce Power. (n.d.). About Us. Bruce Power. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://www.brucepower.com/about-us/
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. (2023, March 22). Bruce A and B Nuclear Generating Stations. Government of Canada. https://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/reactors/power-plants/nuclear-facilities/bruce-nuclear-generating-station/index.cfm?pedisable=true