NAVAL COMBAT SYSTEMS ENGINEERING OFFICER
McCALLUM: Missiles, guns and torpedoes are my responsibility.
SOWA: We make sure the ship is combat capable.
SOWA: The Canadian Navy maintains a presence throughout the world as much to prevent conflict as to be prepared to end it through force.
But when it finally comes down to that, Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers, ensure that the vessels of the Canadian Navy are ready to fight.
I’m Lieutenant Navy Marie Sonya Sowa from Waterford, Ontario and I’m a Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer in the Canadian Navy.
And I’m Lieutenant Commander Eric McCallum from Ottawa - I’m the Combat Systems Engineering Officer on the submarine HMCS Cornerbrook.
McCALLUM: We lead the other members of the Combat Systems Engineering Team.
SOWA: As a team we’re responsible for the operational readiness and maintenance of Naval Weapons Systems, communications, radars & sonars.
CSEOs must be engaged leaders, be able to manage resources and have the technical expertise necessary to be responsible for the multitude of combat systems aboard modern warships.
We also design and apply new weapons technologies to ensure the survivability of the ship and its ability to respond in tactical situations.
It’s an outstanding platform to be working on as an engineer.
McCALLUM: This occupation allows me to see this complex and sophisticated equipment perform as intended in the real world.
SOWA: On top of all that, we’re an integral part of the Emergency Response Team, performing important damage control tasks while the ship is at emergency or action stations to ensure that it can still fight.
Whether it’s working down below in the operations room or working up top on weapons systems, it’s a new adventure and a new challenge every day.
By enrolling in the Regular Officer Training Plan, or ROTP, you can get started right after high school by earning your Bachelor’s Degree at the Royal Military College of Canada, or any other accredited Canadian university.
McCALLUM: Or if you’re already in the process of obtaining an engineering degree, you may be eligible for the Direct Entry Officer Plan.
Preference will be given to applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in either Electrical or Computer Engineering, but other Engineering or Science degrees will be considered.
SOWA: Under either entry plan, all candidates will be required to attend the basic military officer qualification course.
This is where you'll fine tune your natural leadership abilities, and learn the regulations and customs of the Canadian Forces.
And after that, you’ll be off to the Naval Officer Training Centre in Victoria, B.C. for the Naval Environmental Training Program, or NETP - four weeks of which will be spent on board a minor war vessel where you’ll earn your sea legs.
You’ll attend the next phase of your training at the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This is when you begin to apply all of your education and engineering skills to the maritime environment.
You’ll receive detailed instruction in the theory, application, operation, maintenance and management of the Combat Systems Engineering department and its personnel.
Upon completion of this phase of your training you’ll be assigned to your first ship for a period of one year to consolidate all of your skills, knowledge and training.
McCALLUM: My first posting was onboard a ship where I learned the ropes to become a combat systems engineering officer. I was then posted to a submarine as the head of the Combat Systems Engineering Department.
SOWA: When you’re working onboard a ship, you’re a part of the crew, and with that comes additional responsibilities, such as ship evolutions, leading the Boarding Party or being a part of the ship’s Dive Team.
I became a ship’s team diver to combine both fitness & academics so that I could have a better life balance.
The Canadian Navy deploys regularly to reassure our friends in the global community as well as to deter those who might wish us harm.
As an officer in the Canadian Navy, you’ll have an unprecedented opportunity to be a part of that global community, and to build relationships with colleagues from all over the world.
I’ve personally have had the opportunity to travel to many locations from Hawaii to San Diego, San Francisco, Mexico, Alaska. I’ve travelled a lot on the West Coast which is where I was posted.
Of course we also patrol domestic waters and support Search and Rescue operations when we’re at home.
McCALLUM: Once you’ve completed your work on a ship or submarine, you can progress onto project management or research & development.
SOWA: You’ll be offered opportunities for engineering specialization through fully funded post-graduate education in Canada or abroad.
There is an on-going need for Naval Combat Systems Engineers with a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering or Guided Weapons Systems, or specialized skills in things like Radar Systems Analysis, Electronic Warfare or Underwater Acoustics.
McCALLUM: If you choose to work as a Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer with the Canadian Navy, you’ll have a chance to work with a dynamic team and satisfy your sense of adventure.
SOWA: If you have a leadership ability, enjoy math & science, and love emerging technology, then this might be the job for you.