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Andrew Torchia

Combat Systems Engineering Officer
Canadian Armed Forces
Andrew Torchia with parents | Officier du génie des systèmes de combat naval
Andrew Torchia with parents | Officier du génie des systèmes de combat naval
School Subject

Andrew Torchia is a Combat Systems Engineering Officer for the Canadian Armed Forces.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I now live in: I now live in Victoria, British Columbia.

I completed my training/education at: Before I joined the CAF I took some Computer Programming and Systems Analysis training from Red River College in Winnipeg. I first joined as a Weapons Engineering Technician Radar. I studied at the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School. I also took a Computer Systems Engineering course from Camosun College that was tailored to the needs of the CAF at the time. Over the years I’ve taken many courses internal to the Navy.

What I do at work

Engineering Officers in the Navy fall into two groups: Combat systems and Marine Systems. Presently, I manage new people/member’s careers from the day they join the navy until they finish a major performance objective about a year into being on a ship. I relocate members, moving them around the country and beyond to meet their training needs. I schedule their courses and find the right ship on which to train. I also track their training and offer mentorship and suggestions as needed to ensure everyone gets qualified on time.

I create and use a system of complex and detailed spreadsheets that analyze the careers of over 200 junior officers. This helps me to make informed and timely decisions that have major impacts on members’ careers. When making a tough decision I typically make at least three potential Courses Of Action. I then mentally roll time forward with each and see which one will best solve the issue while keeping the person’s best interests in mind.  

A large decision making part of our job is process change. We look at how these people’s careers were managed in the past and ask ourselves “Was that good for the person or the forces?”  Often the answer to that question has us rewriting policy documents and networking with people up and down the ranks to make things better.

My secondary duty is as a Squad Leader for the CFB Esquimalt Urban Search and Rescue team. This involves a lot of heavy equipment and technology to breach & break concrete, lift & move heavy objects, shore up weak structures and do technical searches in order to save lives in structural collapse rescue. Engineering principles, math and technology come together in problem solving how to rescue someone safely from a collapsed building. I have also done a lot of travel to teach structural collapse rescue to regional, national and even international teams.

My career path is

I joined as a Naval Electronics Technician Tactical in 2003, that trade was modified and amalgamated with others and I became a Weapons Engineering Technician Radar. Then in 2016, I was offered the opportunity to commission from a non-commissioned member to an Officer and, became a Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer. I chose my initial trade because I liked fixing electronics and to be honest the name “tactical” sounded cool. I chose to specialize in radar systems as they fascinate me and I am suited to the types of repairs and maintenance they need. I love the idea of challenges and looking ahead being uncertain how I will accomplish everything I set out to do but knowing that I will find a way and I will get there.

I am motivated by

I am excited whenever I can identify a process or policy that was creating negative effects in either training or morale, affect positive change, and make things better for everyone involved.

One of my favourite aspects of military career is variety.  I like progress; I like to keep learning and growing and don’t think I would be happy working the same position and job for years on end. Every three to five years you get a posting message that moves you to a new position. Something new to learn and a new task to master. This keeps the job feeling fresh and ensures continued intellectual stimulation.

I enjoy mentoring people and fostering strong networking relationships that are mutually beneficial. When there is something I don’t know, I usually know someone who knows it. I also greatly enjoy travel and have been to some interesting places and worked with fascinating people.

How I affect peoples’ lives

My main job is to make sure that 200+ people get the best chance of being qualified as Naval Technical Officers. I manage them from the day they join, through university, planning their summer employment, through trade school and out to the ships for their first taste of on the job training. These are real people and real life throws all kinds of curveballs at us.  I do what I can to support these people, keeping quality of life in mind and to get the most out of them without overtasking.

I love being able to help other people realize their goal of being qualified Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers and Marine Systems Engineering Officers.

Outside of work I

PC gaming, reading, writing, artwork (digital and paper), 3D design & printing, music, movies and spending time with my family including my two children I volunteer as a youth soccer coach for two teams. I enjoy powerlifting, Olympic lifting, cycling, running, swimming, hiking, yoga and weight training in general.

My advice to others

This job involves sacrifice and a lot of work and it isn’t for everyone, but to the right person this can be one of the best jobs around. I can say that I am happy to come to work each day and that is something more important than even the money side. If this interests you, dedicate yourself now and you too could have a career you are proud of, and that gives you intellectual stimulation.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Drama
  • Foods & Nutrition
  • Industrial Arts
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Math
  • Music
  • Physical Education / Health
  • Science
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Didn't really care about grades
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Learned best “by doing”
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked helping people
  • Liked reading
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Played on a sports team
  • Played video games
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Was motivated by success
  • Was really creative
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do

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