St. John's conference suggests job opportunities ahead for youth in energy industry – Saltwire

Stephanie Adey always liked math and science.
After graduating high school in 2016 she enrolled in the engineering faculty at Memorial University, with the idea of pursuing chemical engineering and a career in the oil and gas industry.
Today the Mount Pearl resident has a mechanical engineering degree and is an engineer in training with Growler Energy, a St. John’s based engineering company focused on designing renewable and sustainable energy solutions.
At last week’s EnergyNL conference she was one of the panelists for a discussion on new energy.
And with news of a project in Argentia that will use water and wind to make hydrogen, as well as the conversion of an oil refinery at Come By Chance from oil to renewable fuels there was lots to talk about.
Throw in last week’s news about resumption of the West White Rose offshore oil project and the possibility of Equinor’s Bay du Nord project coming online within the next decade and there’s optimism about potential work ahead in the energy industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Three 20-something Marine Institute students are among the hopefuls.
Jerrett Edwards, Galina Zhuravlyova and Alex Saunders are enrolled in the Marine Engineering Systems Design (MESD) course at the St. John’s campus.
Edwards, who hails from St. Lawrence, worked as a labourer in a pipe-fitting operation but “after a hundred 10-hour shifts I realized that wasn’t for me.”
Galina Zhuravlyova of St. John’s already had a marine biology degree and was working as a marine mammal observer on seismic vessels in the offshore.
“Being on the bridge every day and being on all the decks, I really gained an interest in more of the design aspect of the ship and the operations.”

She said she heard a lot of great things about the MESD program at the Marine Institute and decided to enrol.
Alex Saunders began his post-secondary career doing computer science and business at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“I figured out I wanted to stay with computers but not do computer science. A buddy of mine had just graduated from MESD and showed me the kind of work he was doing, designing piping systems for ships.”
Saunders transferred to the Marine Institute and will complete the three-year program this year.
All three of them say the EnergyNL conference showed them there are also possibilities for their skill set in the energy sector, as well as the marine industry.
Saunders said, “Not only does it deal with ships and systems in ships, you can also put that to the oil and gas industry, whether it’s oil rigs, oil sands or even hydrogen and carbon capture projects.”
Knowing that, said Edwards, his career goal is simple.
“I really just want to work on cool projects. I want to get home from work every day and . . .be proud of what I did, be it refitting an oil rig or working in the renewable energy solutions that we’re all figuring out now.”
The Marine Institute offers several programs of study in marine engineering and sciences, as well as diploma programs in ocean mapping, remotely operated vehicles and fisheries resources management.
Dr. Rob Shea, the institute’s vice president, said it has been playing a role in the energy sector for decades.
Before the Hibernia and Hebron rigs were towed from Bull Arm to the offshore fields, he said, the tow-out was planned at the Marine Institute, in the Centre for Marine Simulation under the leadership of Capt. Chris Hearn.
And one of the first graduates of the Marine Institute’s Nautical Science program in 1965, Captain Ahamed Zaki was the captain of the tanker that carried the first oil from the Hibernia platform in 1997.
Shea said that students have been graduating from the institute since the 1960s with the skills to work in the oceans and marine industry, as well as in the energy industry.
And the number of careers to choose from has grown, in the marine environment, in fisheries, shipping, shipbuilding, oil rig operations and climate sciences, and other areas.
As she begins her career journey, Stephanie Adey had some advice to others trying to decide what their life’s work may be.
Engineering, she said, is a good choice for anyone who likes being creative in a logical way.
Pointing out that every piece of machinery—industrial or residential—first requires an engineering plan, Adey said study in that field leads to many possibilities.
“You could end up designing wind turbines, managing larger projects, or working on a ship.”
Mechanical engineering is just one facet, she added. Electrical, chemical, computer and naval engineering are also specialities within the field.
The biggest piece of advice she offers to today’s high school graduates, she said, is this, “Have an idea of where you want to go, but don’t get stuck on it.”
Keep an open mind.
She’s her own best example.
While she always focused on engineering, she said, her idea to work in oil and gas changed after her first classes at MUN.
“That first year made me realize that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with engineering.”
She decided to focus on mechanical engineering, realizing it would prepare her for a broader scope of potential jobs.
And while she originally thought a career in oil and gas would be the end game, the co-op part of the study program gave her the chance to gain work experience and helped guide her career focus towards renewable energy.
Adey’s work terms, through the co-op program, included Husky (Cenovus) oil company, Seafomatics, Kraken Robotics and Tesla.
She says the co-op program was one of the reasons she chose MUN.
Not all universities include paid work terms as part of the engineering degree program.
Memorial does.
The benefits are obvious, she said—not only do those paid jobs help with the college bills, but by the time they collect their degree students have 24 months of work experience to add to their resume.
Thanks to that work experience, Adey landed her first job with Growler Energy, and is working on a project to bring wind power to a northern Canadian community.
Her study and career choice is paying off.
“I get to do some really interesting work,” she said.
Wondering about a career in the energy industry?
Here are some helpful links.
Study programs:
Companies that hire:
About oil and gas jobs:
Job projections in various occupations in Canada up to 2028:[email protected]
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