Skip to main content

Wiebke Jansen

Welder Apprentice
Seaspan Shipyards
Wiebke
Wiebke
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

I am a welder apprentice at Seaspan Shipyards.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Schwalmtal, West Germany.

I now live in: North Vancouver, BC.

I completed my training/education at: I went to high school and graduated in economics and administration from a college in Germany before moving to Canada. As part of my apprenticeship in welding program, I attended the British Columbia Institute of Technology (ITCB) for each year of apprenticeship, which is four years

What I do at work

As an apprentice welder at Seaspan Shipyards, I am part of a great team. Together, we are building great ships for the Canadian government.

Welding is a manufacturing process that fuses two parts together using heat, pressure, or both. The most commonly welded materials are metals, such as aluminum, mild steel (low carbon steel), and stainless steel.

In welding, the heat source is usually produced by an electric arc, which looks like a small lightning bolt. Electricity flowing through the air space between two metal electrodes creates an arc with a temperature of around 3600 degrees Celsius! In comparison, the sun has a temperature of around 5,500 degrees Celsius.

There are different welding processes. At Shipyards, we usually use electric wire welding. This type of welding is a process by which filler metal (the metal that is used to join two other parts together) passes through a welding gun, producing hot metal. As the wire passes through the welding gun, shielding gas also comes out of the welding nozzle. Shielding gas plays an important role in weld quality as it protects hot liquid metal from air during the welding process (as air can weaken the corrosion tolerance of the weld). As it cools, the two (or more) parts welded together will create a solid joint.

We have several large workshops at the shipyard. The smallest welded parts are produced in the first workshop. Then these parts are transferred to the next workshop where they are welded to larger parts on panels. These panels are then assembled into large blocks. They are then transported to the last station. This is where all the crafted blocks come together to form a ship.

It's exciting to watch the evolution of parts, and to see parts that you welded that started out as smaller, turn into huge blocks. It's a bit like Lego blocks, but for adults;)

During the working day, safety is the most important aspect. I must wear my proper personal protective equipment (PPE) all day. My PPE includes fire-resistant coveralls, hard hat, steel-toed boots, safety glasses and hearing protection. I also wear other PPE depending on the tasks I am performing. When I weld I must also wear a dark tinted welding helmet to protect my face from ultraviolet rays. It also helps me see the molten metal under the electric arc. I also wear a respirator to protect myself from potentially harmful fumes.

At the end of the day, I inspect all the work I have done. I am proud of everything I have welded. It is very rewarding to be able to see what you have accomplished during the day.

My career path is

Considering the fact that I have a degree in economics and administration, I would say that a few years ago, I never thought I would end up working in a trade! In my last year of school, the idea of a full-time office job bored me a bit. I moved from Germany to Whistler for a year. Luckily, I got a job as a construction laborer!

After a while, I became a welder's helper for this same construction company. Before I got this job, I had no idea what welding was like. I befriended the welder, and as soon as we had a bit of time he would explain to me what welding was and even let me do a few welds! I immediately fell in love with the job, and had a lot of fun. When I became a permanent resident of Canada, I was able to register as an apprentice. I completed my Level 1 academic training in welding at ITCM in Vancouver. Then I was hired by Seaspan Shipyards, where I am still today.

I am motivated by

Every day on the job is fun at Seaspan Shipyards. It's a challenging job where I learn new things every day. Welding is practically a hobby for me.

As an apprentice at Seaspan Shipyards, I can see the progress I have made in the past year, and I am very proud of it. Some welds that I found difficult to do, like ceiling or vertical welds, are getting easier and easier day by day. Since I really enjoy working manually, I couldn't imagine sitting at a desk all day.

At work, I also met my best friends and girlfriends, and it's great to see them every day and collaborate on the same project!

I'm also delighted that there are a few women on the site who work in different trades. I am part of the change taking place in the skilled trades!

How I affect people’s lives

Doing quality work is the most important aspect. Welds must meet specific standards designed for the vessel under construction. They ensure that it can be used safely after production.

My work is important because it keeps people safe. Knowing that people will be crossing oceans on the ships we have built, and that we are responsible for their safety, illustrates the relevance of a career in welding. You can compare it to the reliability of a car. When driving on the highway, there is no fear of the bumper falling.

Outside of work I

I love the outdoors! Mountains, lakes and the ocean; this is where I am happiest! So I'm very happy to live in North Vancouver because this place allows me to do all of that!

In the winter, I am still skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, I like to go camping on the weekends, climb mountains and paddle board on lakes! In the summer I also play softball on a team with all my friends, it's a lot of fun!

My advice to others

Get out of your comfort zone! A few years ago, I never would have thought of a career as a welder in a shipyard. Now, I can't think of a more fun and enjoyable job. Don't be afraid of being in the minority in an industry; that's just one more reason to do it!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Business & Economics
  • Geography
  • Physical Education/Health
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought People Together
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned Best by Doing

Partners

Seaspan Shipyards

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

Seaspan Shipyards is a leader in Canada’s shipbuilding and ship repair industry. With modern facilities and a dedicated workforce of 2,700 in North Vancouver and Victoria, Seaspan Shipyards has proven itself to be a trusted partner on a range of complex projects for both government and the private sector. Seaspan Shipyards is proud to be Canada’s chosen non-combat shipbuilder under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). In this capacity, the company is building state-of-the-art ships in Canada for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy. Through its NSS-related work, Seaspan Shipyards is creating jobs, generating economic benefits and rebuilding Canada’s shipbuilding and marine industries.

Explore Career Profiles

  • Isabel Hilgendag in the fileld collecting samples in the Arctic

    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Marty Larabie scuba diving

    Marty Larabie (he/him)

    Radiation Inspector

    I perform radiation safety inspections of persons who use nuclear material.
  • Ryan Mitchell headshot

    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth

    Inspector

    I perform inspections of worksites where radiation is used, stored or transported.
  • Terra MacDonald at aquaculture site holding farmed salmon.

    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

    As the veterinarian for Mowi Canada West, I care for the salmon at all life stages, from egg to harvest.
  • Isha Berry Headshot

    Isha Berry

    Epidemiologist

    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Graham Ballachey headshot

    Graham Ballachey

    Vice President, Engineering

    I manage and oversee all the engineering work for a lithium mine development company.
  • Mike Stanzel headshot

    Mike Stanzel

    Technical Sales Manager

    I’m a sales professional who specializes in selling technical or scientific products.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
  • Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk headshot

    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
  • Cameron Dickenson

    Cameron Dickinson

    Senior Engineer, Space Exploration

    I work on sensors and camera technology for use on planetary exploration missions.
  • Katie Harris essayant une combinaison spatiale de simulation au Centre européen des astronautes.

    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Michelle Henry

    Michelle Henry

    Non-Destructive Testing Technician

    I inspect metal parts on nuclear reactors to make sure they are in good working order.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Julie Thrasher au travail dans la salle de commande

    Julie Thrasher

    Shift Manager (Nuclear Power)

    I’m responsible for the safe and effective operation of a four unit nuclear power plant.
  • Andrew Brereton travaillant à l'ordinateur

    Andrew E. Brereton

    Computational Scientist

    I write code that teaches computers how to design new drugs.
  • Karissa Palinka headshot

    Karissa Palinka (she/her)

    Technical Engineer

    Karissa is working to reduce our carbon footprint through the use of Small Modular Reactors.
  • Anaïs Remili tenant un sac de poissons à étudier.

    Anaïs Remili (she/her)

    Whale Researcher

    I am doing research on pollution in killer whales.
  • Stephen Edison

    Stephen Edison

    Energy Transition Advisor

    I use science and engineering to find solutions in support of energy transition and lower carbon. 
  • Edmund Co

    Edmund Co

    Food Scientist

    I use my chemical knowledge to investigate quality complaints and legal issues for the LCBO.