Brendan Lalonde (pictured above) had no idea mining engineering even existed before attending a few talks on the industry during his first year of university. “After hearing about the big trucks and explosions, it just sounded really cool,” he said. Jump ahead two years – Lalonde is now the recipient of the 2006 Caterpillar and its Canadian Dealers Scholarship.
A second-year mining engineering student at the University of Alberta, Lalonde leapt at the opportunity to drive CAT 797s this past summer for Syncrude. “Although it was cool at first, the 12-hour night shifts can get a little lonely. But, it was a great experience to be in the mining environment, to see how things work, and see ramps and dumps being built.”
Lalonde is a student that likes getting involved. He attends local CIM branch meetings, student-industry nights, and company information nights, where people who have been working in the industry for a long time share a lot of practical information about mining. He was also chosen as the student coordinator for the Mining Industry Advisory Committee at the University of Alberta, where he is busy making sure that his peers find summer jobs and that their ideas and concerns are relayed to industry representatives. “I think I’ve probably spent more time this month working at this than on school and homework,” he commented.
Having completed his schooling in French immersion and his first year of university in French could open additional doors for Lalonde; he hopes to get an underground job next summer, which means he will be looking outside Alberta. He doesn’t yet know what the future holds for his career but he’s not too concerned. “The economy is in an upswing and a lot of people are retiring. Career opportunities seem to be growing. I don’t know yet what I want to do, but I’m keeping my eyes open.”
A rewarding fascination with geology
Before enrolling in a B.Sc. in geology at Saint Mary’s University, Nicholas Jansen completed an Aviation Business diploma and obtained his commercial pilot’s license. Although he always had a fascination with landforms, it was after flying the occasional prospector around, especially one who showed him rocks he had never seen before, that his interest led him back to school. Jansen is this year’s recipient of the Scotiabank and Scotia Capital Markets Scholarship.
Jansen is also a proponent of student involvement. During the 2004-2005 school year, he participated in a trip to Sonora, Mexico, where he visited gold and copper mines. “I learned more about the mining industry and became convinced to pursue a career in mineral exploration and mining,” he said. While president of the Geology Society at Saint Mary’s last year, he not only organized events, trips to conferences, and fieldtrips, but began helping to plan a field school to Greece taking place in 2007.
Coming from a background in flying where finding postgraduate employment comes after a lot of knocking on doors, Jansen is amazed at the difference with this industry. “There are a lot of opportunities here, good jobs in exploration are easy to find, especially since commodity prices are up,” he said. As the career paths in this industry are bountiful, one of the challenges Jansen sees is making sure you learn the right stuff to get into the field you want.
This past September, Jansen began his honours project with Linear Gold Corporation, on their Ixhuatan Project in Chiapas, Mexico. “Right now, I want to go into exploration geology, which is basically the topic for my honours project,” he commented. Even though there is potential to make a lot of money working in this industry, Jansen cautions other geology students on choosing a career path based solely on money. “Make sure you’re studying something you’re going to enjoy. If you like the outdoors and going out into the field, then a career in geology might be something for you. You can get good-paying jobs in geology, but don’t just go into for that. You want to have a real passion for it as well.”