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Peter Grootelaar

Engineer, Kitimat Operations Superintendent
Chevron Canada
Peter Grootelaar
Peter Grootelaar
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Ontario but grew up in Edmonton Alberta

I now live in: Chestermere, Alberta

I completed my training/education at: I completed the Civil Engineering Technologist Diploma at NAIT, a BSc. in Civil Engineering at the University of Alberta, and a MSc. In Operations Research at Columbia University in New York

What I do at work

When I started in this industry, I was a design engineer. In that role, I worked on design and construction of oil and gas production equipment. This was really fun and very enjoyable. I really enjoyed seeing my ideas become reality. I used many STEM skills in this work. These included math and physics and computer programming. I also used specialized engineering skills. For example, I used my understanding and experience in hydraulics and fluid mechanics as well as structural engineering. I also used specialized skills in economics engineering and project management. When I started, computers were just beginning to be used by engineers. Before then, we did our calculations on paper. Hard to believe now!

A good thing about being an engineer is that you are always working with others. This helps you be sure that you are doing the right thing with your work. Everyone helps out each other, and nobody is left to work alone without help. Working in STEM is actually easier than going to school. This is because you have so many people to help you out.

I was very lucky in my career. I joined an energy company because I wanted to travel. I got my wish! I've worked outside of Canada for more than 25 years. I have worked in Africa, South America, Kazakhstan, Australia, Europe and China. I learned Spanish and Russian at work and it is very cool to use another language at work. Learning and working in other cultures has been a highlight of my career. If you are interested to do this, I would strongly encourage it. I think a big piece of a STEM career is that you are almost never working alone (unless you really want to). There is a great deal of interaction and engagement with your co-workers. So don't think of a STEM job as being alone in front of a computer. We are constantly meeting and interacting with each other.

My career path is

I really had no idea in high school that I would have a career that was this much fun or this rewarding. My STEM career has been very fulfilling both personally and monetarily. I didn't do well in high school. I had a bad attitude about school, particularly in grade 11-12. My family had just moved, and I hated my new school. When I graduated, I worked in several different jobs. The money was good but the jobs were boring and unfulfilling. I wanted something more. I was always interested in mechanics and engineering. I have worked on cars since I was 14 years old.  So I knew what I wanted to take. But my high school grades were not good enough to get into any of these programs. As a result, I had to take upgrading to improve my grade 12 grades.

After I completed my upgrading, I went to NAIT where I completed the Civil Engineering Technologist certification. I was working in my first job as a civil engineering technologist and I met an engineer at the office who motivated me to take my engineering degree. She later became an engineering professor and was a big influence on my success. I went the University of Alberta where I completed a BSc in Civil Engineering. When I graduated from U of A, I signed on with Chevron, where I still work today.

I am motivated by

As a manager, what gets me excited is to see my employees and staff do really well. When they are successful, I take great pride in being able to help them achieve that success. In my work, there are two things that I find very interesting. The first is that technology is developing very quickly. This give us new ways to improve our business by using new systems and new computer technology. The second is working and communicating with people. Even though we are scientists and engineers, we are very social beings. Developing relationships and working together takes effort. But the rewards of good interpersonal relationships are very fulfilling. This is a big part of what motivates me.

How I affect peoples’ lives

Energy projects help employ many people. I have helped many people work satisfying and fulfilling careers. Being able to do this in places like Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela has been really, really fun. I still talk to and have friendships with my employees and colleagues from all over the world. This in itself is very rewarding.

A big focus for any engineer is to carry out their work with minimal impact to the environment. We also want our work to be economic and valuable. And, we want to make life better for the people we work with, and the places where we work. Being able to see this first hand has been very cool. Energy development can make very big difference in the quality of life for the people where we work. I've been fortunate to see this first hand, from the Northern Territories of Canada to Africa.

Outside of work I

My big sport now is sailing. I am lucky enough to live on a lake and can sail everyday if I want to. Sailing is a very technical sport. It appeals to me as it involves aerodynamics and fluid mechanics, as well as being just plain fun! I also like astronomy, which is also a bit technical, but also really cool. I was a volunteer Boy Scout Leader for 5 years when I lived in Nigeria. Both my sons attended these courses. I would encourage all young boys and girls to get involved in Scouting. It is great fun and a great way to meet people and do some really cool stuff. I also like hiking, camping and skiing.

My advice to others

Be flexible and learn as much as you can. Learning should be fun! Be sure to spend the time with your friends to talk about what you've learned.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Business & Economics
  • Computer Science
  • Music
  • Geography
  • Math
  • Industrial Arts
  • Science
  • Auto mechanics
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Liked reading
  • Never wanted to be in the classroom
  • Didn't really care about grades
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Learned best “by doing”
  • Was very interested in auto mechanics and worked on fixing cars
  • Wasn't the greatest student in high school

Related Topics


Chevron Canada

Let’s Talk Science appreciates the support of Chevron Canada in connecting us with this individual.

Chevron Canada is an indirect, independent subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. Since 1938, Chevron Canada has been exploring for, developing, producing and marketing crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. Chevron’s vision is to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnership and performance.

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