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Career Profile

Steve Copeland

Power Distribution Supervisor
Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.
Steve Copeland au travail
Steve Copeland au travail
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Steve Copeland is a Power Distribution Supervisor for Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Surrey BC, Canada. At the age of five I moved to Qualicum Beach BC (Vancouver Island)

I now live in: Sayward BC

I completed my training/education at: I completed the Electrician Apprenticeship Program from North Island College

What I do at work

The typical day at work starts with a toolbox meeting.  This involves safety information and shares that relate to both safety at work and at home. Then the team discusses the work that will be done for the day. This work can include such things as preventative maintenance, construction work, and breakdowns.   My job is to make sure the team has the tools, materials, information and guidance to do their tasks.  

Our team consists of 6 Mechanics, 6 Electricians, and 2 Control Room Operators.  Each individual brings their own knowledge and skillsets, that we pool together to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the Powerhouses. The Powerhouses provide electricity for the mine using large generators and wind turbines.

For the Mechanical maintenance, we complete preventative maintenance on the generators. This includes oil changes, valve adjustments, filter replacements, etc.  This is very similar to a vehicle engine maintenance program, but on a much larger scale.  We also complete engine overhauls and rebuilds when needed. To decide if an engine needs to be rebuilt, we collect the data from oil samples, fuel usage, valve clearances, vibration analysis, and coolant acidity. We also look at the number of hours it has been in operation (i.e., the run hours). 

The Electricians maintain the electrical switchgear that is required to distribute power site wide.  All high voltage feeder breakers are controlled by feeder protection relays.  These relays monitor such things as voltages, currents, frequency, and ground fault currents.  The settings and coordination between these relays must be very precise and reliable. This ensures safe operation of this equipment. The set points are engineered and must be coordinated to work within milliseconds of one another. We do annual testing on all distribution relays and breakers. To do this we use a number of specialized testing tools.

There is so much more to each day in the Powerhouse. The one thing that does not change is that if the lights are on, and everyone finishes the day safe and healthy, we have succeeded in our roles here at Diavik.

My career path is

I honestly had no idea what I would do after High School.  I knew university wasn’t for me, at that time anyways.  Lucky for me, I had an uncle that had a small electrical construction business.  He hired me on as a laborer for the summer. After three weeks, he saw that I had potential for electrical work. He helped me get into an apprenticeship program.  I spent the next four years completing my electrician apprenticeship wiring houses.

Shortly after completing my apprenticeship, the housing market went into a downward slide.  I was out of work but had always wanted to get into the industrial side of the trade.  I found a small pulp mill on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and spent the next three years there.  At first, I was completely out of my comfort zone. Industrial work was very different than wiring homes.  Once I got my feet on the ground, I knew I had found the right career path for me.

Three years after starting at the pulp mill, I decided to make the move to the mining sector.  This change in career path took me to every corner of British Columbia, and into Alberta for a time. In 2014, I decided to make one more career change. This one brought me to Diavik Diamond Mines. Daivik is located in the Northwest Territories, on a remote island 300 or so kilometers north-east of Yellowknife.  Here I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the trades. In 2018, I was promoted to Supervisor.

I am motivated by

What keeps me motivated in my career is the ability and need to keep learning and growing as a tradesperson and a leader. 

I find the troubleshooting and problem-solving portion of the job is what interests me the most.  There are always so many ways to tackle a problem. Being able to work as a team and come up with solutions to these problems is always rewarding. Construction also comes with its rewards.  It’s very satisfying to build something from the ground up, be it control systems, lighting, cable trays or any other project. 

How I affect peoples’ lives

Working in the trades provides new challenges every day. Having the skills to meet those challenges and succeed, is what makes this career path so fulfilling.  Working with such a range of people is rewarding and always gives opportunity to learn and grow as a leader.

As we are the team that produces the power for the mine site, we take pride in making sure we are delivering this in a reliable and efficient way.

Outside of work I

For fun, I like to spend my time outdoors as much as I can.  Hiking, riding anything with two wheels, and camping whenever the weather permits. 

My advice to others

There are many programs that can get you a head start into the trades, even before you are done high school.  If a trades program interests you, contact your local college or trade school and see what options might be there for early access to the programs.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Computer Science
  • Industrial Arts/Shop Programs
  • Math
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Played video games
  • Learned best “by doing"

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