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Robin Lee Sheffield

Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Royal Canadian Navy
Robin Lee Sheffield | Officier du génie des systèmes de combat naval
Robin Lee Sheffield | Officier du génie des systèmes de combat naval
School Subject

Robin Lee Sheffield is a Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Royal Canadian Navy.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

I now live in: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

I completed my training/education at: I completed a Bachelor of Science degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia; I majored in Physics and Mathematics (via the CAF subsidized education program, Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP)). I received Ammunition Technical Officers specialist training at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, United Kingdom, followed by practical Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training in Kineton, United Kingdom.

What I do at work

In my current job, I manage a team of project leaders and assign work to them in order to fix the ships needing repair. Getting the ships back to sea in order to deploy overseas on military operations is my main end goal. 

I make many decisions in a day that affect many others. This included those who work on the shop floor of the maintenance shop (almost 1000 employees), and those sailors on the ships. I make decisions that can send employees half way around the world on a moment’s notice to fix a ship’s radars, radios, and weapons systems, etc. For example, last week I sent 3 people to Shalala, Oman to fix a radar.

Being a Naval Engineer and program manager at Canada’s largest Naval maintenance Facility is more than just looking at drawings. It involves managing multiple projects at the same time and finding solutions to get ships ready for war. Understanding the science and technology assists in making the best decisions and ultimately keep ships at sea longer. 

Managing projects requires a lot of focus on the long-term goals of the Navy, all while not forgetting to put out the daily concerns that arise. 

My career path is

I have a Bachelor of Science degree with a Double Major in Physics and Math. I knew that my job was to make sure the weapons, radars, sonars, communications and navigation equipment on a warship worked properly. I never thought that I would be managing an Ammunition depot for the Canadian Government. Nor did it think that I would be responsible for spending millions to purchase new hand-held radios for sailors. I’ve been an Engineering trainee at sea, a department manager, a project manager in charge of bringing Satellite TV to ships at sea, an explosives Ordnance disposal trainee with the British Army, a head of department at sea, and a program manager which manages multiple large projects.

I never intended to join the Navy. My parents were not able to provide any support for me to attend University. So I thought by joining the forces, I would be able to overcome that obstacle. It worked out nicely and I love what I do as well.

I am motivated by

I have always enjoyed my career, even when it can get really tough and stressful.  I have special interests in ammunition and explosives, which I explored earlier in my career. I became an Explosives Ordnance Operator, and ammunition expert. This qualification has put me in a position to take on my next posting as the commanding Officer of CFAD ROCKY POINT, Canada’s west coast ammunition depot. I was able to explore my interests and broaden my knowledge to other fields.  I really like that every two years, the focus changes to something new and more rewarding as you progress with your experiences and knowledge. This keeps the jobs fresh and never stale. I really enjoy learning new things, and then applying my knowledge to different positions with different responsibilities.  

How I affect peoples’ lives

There are points when I need to send people around the world on a moment’s notice, so this can definitely affect their personal lives. We try not to do that often, but sometimes the mission is more important than we are. 

My career matters because the decisions I make may affect whether a ship can defend itself in hostile waters, thus may save lives. This is a very fulfilling feeling, when you know that decisions you make in your job can have global impacts. 

Outside of work I

I enjoy Yoga to calm my mind and meditate to relax. I volunteer every year at Camp Yoga BC and Alberta and support my wife who is a performer in the Victoria dance, circus and yoga scene. I know, weird huh!

My advice to others

Enjoy what you do and don’t be afraid to fail! Only in failing, do you truly learn the value of your worth.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • History
  • Math
  • Physical Education / Health
  • Science (Physics and Chemistry)
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Was really creative
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Learned best “by doing”
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing, berry picking and hunting

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