Alan Locke

Research Technologist
Defence Research and Development Canada
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Outside of work I

I enjoy an overlap between my career and hobbies.  I spend my spare time restoring an old Volkswagen pickup truck, implementing more STEM principles in my free time. I like being active such as shooting hoops, playing golf, and sailing.

Outside of work I
My career path is

When I was in school, I could not have dreamed to be doing what I do.  I didn’t know such a career existed! As a kid, I knew I wanted to work with my hands. I also wanted to know why things were designed in such a way. I spent a lot of time with my family working on cars, trucks, boats etc. I observed many hands on skills from my father, a Red Seal Machinist and Millwright. This led me to this career path.

I had challenges while attempting Engineering at University. However, I was able to switch to NSCC and keep my career path headed in the same direction. I flourished in the more “hands on” learning environment at NSCC. I would certainly recommend Mechanical Engineering Technology and Machining as complimentary trades. Together, they provide theoretical knowledge and practical hands on skills. I completed a co-op term and apprenticeship with DRDC. I am now a Red Seal Endorsed Machinist. Check my LinkedIn profile for more information.

My career path is
My advice to others

Take a “test drive” at NSCC. It led me down this road, and I love going to work every day because of it!

My advice to others

About me

I was born/grew up in: Shelburne, Nova Scotia

I now live in: Halifax, Nova Scotia

I completed my training/education at: I attended NSCC where I completed the Mechanical Engineering Technology and Machining programs.

About me

I am motivated by

I get excited at work for projects that are difficult, time consuming and complex. By using STEM principles, I am able to provide important information to our scientific research program. My career is interesting because we test each prototype. These tests take place in a wide variety of field/sea trials both near and abroad. I most enjoy implementing STEM principles to take a chunk of raw material (metal/plastic) and cutting/forming it into a useful prototype for further scientific research. This is the right career for me because I can see the finished part inside the raw stock. I can visualize how to plan the manufacturing process in order to end up with the desired part. I love seeing the final product come together.

I am motivated by
How I affect people's livesMy career is relevant and fulfilling because I am able to contribute to the advancement of the scientific research program at DRDC. My career matters because I am able to take concepts and ideas from a theoretical state, and by applying principles of STEM, create a physical prototype.  This prototype is used to prove or validate an idea, and provide feedback for further scientific research. The things I do and produce affect every Canadian. The products we create helps provide a strong, secure, and engaged Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces.
How I affect people's lives
What I do at work

In my work at Defence Research and Development Canada, I use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to design and visually represent 3D models of parts. After I have the models, I use Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) software to create Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programs. The CNC program will then create the parts on specialized CNC milling machines and CNC lathes. I also operate manual, conventional machine tools such as milling machines, lathes, presses, grinders, saws, and other hand tools.

Each task I perform is directly related to STEM. We use the scientific method when we test our prototypes out in the field. We collect data and then analyze this data. Technology in the form of specialized machines and processes are used to produce components to solve problems. Engineering and Math is used to design and develop new technologies. Together, this helps make sure the product will fit and function as intended in a wide variety of environments/applications. I work as part of a team in the Prototype Development Group. When we have a new project to work on, we divide the scope of a project into achievable tasks. Each member of the team has specific skills that make a meaningful contribution towards the end goal.

What I do at work
When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Geography
  • Math
  • Industrial Arts
  • Physical Education/Health
  • Science
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Was really creative
  • Always knew exactly what I wanted to do
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Learned best “by doing”


Skills/Compétences Canada

Let's Talk Science would like to thank Skills/Compétences Canada (SCC) for connecting us with the individual profiled above.

Skills/Compétences Canada was founded in 1989 as a national, not-for-profit organization with partner Skills Canada organizations in each of the provinces/territories that work with employers, educators, labour groups and governments to promote skilled trade and technology careers among Canadian youth. Its unique position among private and public-sector partners enables it to work toward securing Canada’s future skilled labour needs while helping young people discover rewarding careers. Skills Canada offers experiential learning opportunities including skilled trade and technology competitions for hundreds of thousands of young Canadians through regional, provincial/territorial, national and international events, as well as skilled trade awareness programs. For more information, visit

Skills Canada

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