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Andrea Ruohoniemi

Weapons Engineering Sonar Technician
Royal Canadian Navy
Andrea Ruohoniemi | Technicienne en génie des armes
Andrea Ruohoniemi | Technicienne en génie des armes

Andrea Ruohoniemi is a Weapons Engineering Sonar Technician for the Royal Canadian Navy.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I grew up in a rural community called Summerville, Nova Scotia.

I now live in: I live about twenty five minutes from my home community, Ellershouse, NS.

I completed my training/education at: I joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Royal Canadian Navy via a subsidized education program called non-commissioned member subsidized training and education plan (NCMSTEP). I completed a two year Electronics Diploma program at the Marine Institute of Memorial University, St. John’s, NL. All my training was paid for by the CAF.

What I do at work

As a technician within the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) my career has taken me to a lot of places over these past 17 years! I have spent a total of 6 years and 9 months on different classes of ships. This includes the destroyer, frigate, and our costal defense platforms. While employed onboard a ship it was my responsibility to apply the knowledge that I learned on my various academic and equipment training courses. To keep systems running at peak performance it’s vital to ensure that maintenance routines are performed. This is just the same as making sure we change the oil, rotate tires, keep fluids topped up, and monitor our brake systems, etc. concerning the vehicles we drive. 

I also have essential test equipment at my disposal in the event that systems require corrective maintenance actions. At all times I work with a partner who is either new to the job or someone who has the same training as I, and we perform various tasks together. It’s very important to work as a team because two minds and four hands are more beneficial to get any job done. When not on a ship I help with the training of future technicians. I’m currently an equipment instructor that enjoys being engaged with the training of the next generation of sailors!

My career path is

I honestly had no idea what I was going to do when I graduated from high school. I worked at a job placement within a veterinary clinic and enjoyed that opportunity very much. However, I wasn’t that interested in going into debt for further education if I wasn’t 100% certain that was my dream job. My father actually influenced me in my decision to join the forces He had completed over 35 years and absolutely enjoyed his career in the Navy. I enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and I spent two years in St. John’s, NL getting an electronics diploma through the Marine Institute. The CAF paid for all my education and I shared an apartment with another female student who was also on the same course. Upon graduation I came back to Nova Scotia and was placed on a 4 month hands-on repair course. I was then posted/located to my first ship and spent over a year as an apprentice. During this time I also experienced many European coastal ports while on a 6 month deployment!

I am motivated by

This is a great career choice for me! I enjoy the relationships I have developed. A very tight bond forms when people come together and work as a team. My most memorable experiences with the RCN would be disaster relief missions! I found it very rewarding to spend a couple of months in Haiti helping rebuild shelters for orphaned children during a devastating earthquake that shook their country in 2010. I also had the experience of assisting with clean up measures in the state of Mississippi when hurricane Katrina hit their coast in 2005. As a junior technician new to the navy, the job may seem overwhelming at times. But it’s important to consider that everyone has gone through the same process and the adventures that await are well worth it.

How I affect peoples’ lives

I see myself as more than a technician. It’s my responsibility to keep all SONAR systems functioning for operators to detect incoming naval threats. I also maintain navigational systems and make sure they are operational. This includes making sure they are properly calibrated as they are designed to interpret current weather and ocean conditions. Without these systems in peak performance, missions and operations would be compromised for all ship staff. As part of the naval team we engage in missions for anything from disaster relief, drug interdiction, to Artic patrols. No two days are ever the same!

Outside of work I

I enjoy reading a good book when I’m not outside hiking, camping, or gardening. During the past couple of years, I’ve dedicated going to the gym on a frequent basis. The CAF promotes healthy lifestyles so I’m fortunate to incorporate physical fitness into my daily work routine.

My advice to others

If you decide to join the CAF, it’s important to keep in mind that somedays are going to be tough! In my personal opinion there are more positive elements to consider that far outweigh the disadvantages. Always try to look on the bright side and the job can be very rewarding. It’s up to you to want it!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Business & Economics
  • Drama
  • Foods & Nutrition
  • Geography
  • Home Economics
  • Industrial Arts
  • Physical Education / Health
  • Other: Biology was my favourite subject
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Learned best “by doing”
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Liked helping people
  • Liked reading
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do

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