WCW Member Profile – Crystal Eggert

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile – Crystal Eggert, Instructor Water & Wastewater TEchnician Program NAIT, Edmonton AB.

CrystalName: Crystal Eggert
Company/City: NAIT, Edmonton, AB
Position: Instructor

Core Function:

My current position has many similarities to that of being an operator which I really enjoy.  For one, no day is the same. Each day has a different challenge for both the students and I alike. My knowledge is continually growing and this benefits me both as an Operator and an Instructor. I work on a daily basis with a diverse team of people who make up the NAIT faculty and they are all terrific. I have plenty of time off in the summer to do the things I love, and will finally have time to read a book for pleasure!

History/Training:

From an early age, I was always passionate about nature and the environment. I recall as a child spending countless hours exploring the ravines and tree lines around my home for wildlife.  I especially felt drawn to the lakes, looking for insects, and studying the plants and trees in the neighbourhood. That is how I remember spending much of my time. Throughout high-school I continued to enjoy courses related to sciences, my favourites being Biology and Chemistry. So when I discovered NAIT’s Biological Sciences/Environmental Sciences course I registered. It was a terrific program well suited to people with a passion for keeping our natural resources sustainable; but what I found of particular interest was the water and wastewater topics within the program. Through that course we took a tour to the Devon Water and Wastewater facilities and it was there I knew I had found my future career. Shortly after completing the program I enrolled in the Water and Wastewater Technician Program at NAIT, and I have found success ever since.

History in the industry:

I owe much of my achievement to Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission (ACRWC) as that was where my operational experiences were allowed to progress to a Level IV Wastewater Technician. Through various training and projects I became a versatile operator. This enabled me to accomplish a diverse array of tasks from doing daily rounds, to developing and delivering courses for the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence (EWMCE). By keeping involved and challenged by the various opportunities within the industry I was able to focus on my job and my goals as an operator. However, even though my career as an operator was very full-filling, I still wanted to do more. I felt a rush of excitement when I was delivering wastewater related topics and courses, such as Anaerobic Digestion, and I realized one day I wanted to try to master the subject matter in all areas.

Career highlights:

Although my new career has just begun, I owe a great deal of people credit for helping to shape and mould me into the Operator and Instructor I am today. From my first experiences doing summer practicum in the Town of Devon, and meeting Andy Bebbington and Jim Hepler, both of whom are very well known for being involved on several boards and associations; while also devoting many years of service. They inspired me to do a presentation at the Western Canada Water and Wastewater Conference in 2007, surrounding the Town of Devon and there growing needs for the water and wastewater plant infrastructure upgrades. I was pleased to have won student prize for the presentation in the Operations/Facility category. To Dwayne Cikaluk, who is Operations Supervisor at ACRWC.  Working for him and getting the opportunity to see him run a BNR plant that he has over 20 years experience operating, really makes you appreciate that being a wastewater treatment operator is more of an art than a science.  Now I work side by side with the small, but amazing Water and Wastewater Program faculty. I work closely with Darren Demchuk the program chair, previously from Epcor as a Water network operator. His role in the program is essential to both the staff and students. He gives the program direction for the future which is dedicated to providing the industry with quality graduates while always striving to be better.

Typical Day

I feel very privileged to be hired on as NAIT’s first female Instructor in the Water and Wastewater Technician Program! Having graduated from the program, I like that the instructors believe in “hands on” training and do their best to incorporate this into lesson plans each day. Whether it’s bringing in equipment for visual aids to having guest speakers from industry presenting to students, these are valuable tools that make the learning environment very positive for the student. Not taking away from the importance of the theory, I feel it is the hands on training and lab work that benefits the student when they go out to industry.

Challenges

Being away from operations has been an adjustment, but every day I walk into the school that has provided me with an education and career I can be proud of. The days are still just as exciting and unpredictable as being in the field, but with the comforts of no hard hat, coveralls, and steel toe boots! Many of the operators I have had the opportunity to get to know are graduates of the program, so there is still a strong connection to industry. NAIT faculty is very involved with various Operator associations, as well as Industry leaders who join NAIT to offer suggestions on how to better prepare the students for joining the field. It makes me glad to know that I am contributing to shape future operators who will one day help to re-build the knowledge and years of experience that is slowly declining as more and more skillful operators head to retirement.

Advice for a Successful Career

This field of work has a lot to offer and a lot to learn. Be dedicated in your study’s as you try to reach your certification levels, but be mindful that there is a lot of technology out there aside from what you may work with regularly. I enjoy receiving my various subscriptions to the water related magazines because I always learn something new. It keeps me up to speed on technological advances, and helps me to be creative in finding ways to improve my job from day to day. Building experience with knowledge is the key to having a successful career, and sometimes that is enough to give you a leading edge.

Life away from work:

In my spare time I continue to do my due diligence as an environmental steward by volunteering for Capital city clean-up. This will be my fourth year as block captain, and I enjoy spending sunny days in the river valley picking up litter to keep our parks and river clean. I still take pleasure in spending plenty of time outdoors running, biking, and most recently trying to golf. In the winter time, I stay warm with friends and family heading up to the mountains for a day of skiing and fun.

  • A. Park

    Crystal was my lab instructor last May @ NAIT. A very competent and confident instructor. Thanks, Mz. Eggert.

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