Nigel Burgess talks about life working for Bermudan electricity provider BELCO, discussing the surprising professional development support on offer and facing 50-degree celcius power plants during the height of summer!
What’s your name?
Where do you work?
Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO), Pembroke, Bermuda.
What's your job title?
How long have you been doing that?
I’m in the fourth and final year of my Engineer in Training (EIT) programme, which aims to develop my knowledge and skills to earn Chartered Engineer (CEng) professional registration.
How did you get here?
I started out in the summer student program after my first year of university and returned each year afterwards. In between my Bachelor and Masters studies at Howard University in Washington DC, I joined BELCO temporarily for eight months as their predictive maintenance engineer in the energy delivery section.
Following my Masters I joined BELCO’s engineering department in the energy supply section, going onto its graduate EIT program which leads toward achieving Chartership though the IET.
What's the work and day to day experience like?
The work in our small design and project management based engineering section has provided me with many opportunities to gain a diverse engineering experience. I have had opportunities in project management, gas turbine and switchgear commissioning, design, safety and quality control.
What are the people you work with like?
BELCO is considered a big company here in Bermuda with over 300 employees. In my role, I get to deal with the majority of them whether administratively, in the power plant, or on the transmission and distribution lines.
From day one, everyone has been very receptive and friendly to me, senior engineers are always available to assist you or give you career advice. However, in the field, as a young engineer the only way to gain the trust and respect of the workers is to earn it by managing or performing jobs to a high standard.
What's the best thing about the job?
Bermuda’s energy needs are going through many changes and with BELCO being the sole electricity company on the island we are in the middle of a great adventure. BELCO has several generation units on the edge of retirement and being part of the project team, planning for a new power plant has given me a great exposure to large scale project management and implementation.
Also, with Bermuda getting into the small-scale renewable energy craze, I have been able to join and lead projects in this field as well. Solving problems, whether in the power plant, at our substations, or at the residential level with renewable energy solutions, is very intriguing and offers a wide range of opportunities and exposure.
And the worst?
The worst part of my job has to be going out into a 50oC power plant in the middle of the summer. The heat is unbearable at times!
How would you describe life as a working engineer?
Very busy! With work, family, sporting and volunteering commitments I have a very busy, yet rewarding life. Engineers are problem solvers; I enjoy being faced with and finding solutions to real issues.
What did you expect when you started work and was it what you expected?
With my previous experience at the company prior to starting full-time, I was expecting to take on a more advance role than a level one engineer-in -training and I was not disappointed. I was immediately given tasks with an increased level of importance, independence and accountability, which I was delighted with. It showed that my engineering team held me to a high regard and had confidence in me to complete tasks of that level.
What surprised you the most about working life?
The willingness of colleagues and senior engineers to support me in my personal and professional development was a big surprise. For a company of this size, everyone really looks out for each other’s wellbeing and provides each other with internal motivation to achieve higher standards.
Is there any advice you'd like to pass on?
The greatest advice I can give to students is to try to get as much exposure in the industry as possible. Gaining engineering knowledge and experience in the workforce is irreplaceable and will be an asset to you when seeking a permanent job.