So, who is Graham?
So who is Graham? Good question. I have to admit I don't always know myself...
I grew up in a small Canadian city called Guelph. Located near the Canada's famous Great Lakes, it meant a childhood that was full of outdoor activities and trips. Summers were spent at the family cottage on a small lake near Lake Nipssing and at a boys' camp in Georgian Bay called Camp Hurontario. As a family, when I was older, we cruised the islands of Georgian Bay on well-worn 31-foot sailboat that was the source of many adventures and stories. It was during these summers that I learned about swimming, canoeing, back country camping, and most importantly, sailing. Childhood sailing experiences included everything from small dinghies to full-sized keel boats that you can sleep on. Though I have to admit I'm not the greatest sailor, I still sail to this day.
After many years of working out of town, I am now very fortunate to be able to both live and work in my home town. The year 2010 was a year of change for me. It meant switching jobs to find something a little closer to home and taking the leap into home ownership. I'm now a proud owner a 1870s red brick Victorian house in downtown Guelph. The next several years will be spent fixing the place up and breathing some life into its many gardens. Who knew that home ownership would be so much work!
Over the years I've worked in a number of jobs. When I was a teenager, I ran a small business installing electrical systems in boats. Then I was off to University, where I worked in their IT department for 8 years. After that I ran my own software develpoment company, before starting my engineering career at a structural engineering firm. I spent about a year at RWDI doing wind loading calcuations for buildings, and then changed jobs to what I studied in school: Automatic Control Systems. My next job was a control systems specialist at a firm that designed high vacuum, evaportive coating machines, ion-beam mills, and space simulation chambers. I got to play 'mad scientist' with them for about year, before I worked in the ready-mix concert industry for a few Supervisory Control projects. After that I met a fellow who owned a pharmaceutical engineering firm, who invited me to come work with him for a few years. I spent 3 years in the pharma industry doing process control design, project management and facilties design - it was a cool job, but there was a lot of paperwork.
In 2010, I made the jump over the municipal water sector. I spent the next five years working for a consulting engineering firm where I did System Ingegration, PLC/HMI programming, Instruemntation/Control Design, Electrical Design, Project Management, Contract Admin, and a number of other technical roles. I also got to a bit of business development, which was a fun challenge. After about five years, I felt it was time to go work for a city where I could shape the long term develpoment of a waterworks rather than jumping from project to project. So in the fall of 2015, I started my current role with the City of Guelph.
As my day job, I look after automatic control systems that keep my city's waterworks operating. This includes the long-term planning of upgrades, supervising improvement work, developing system standards, and ensuring our operations team has the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently/effectively. My official title is Water SCADA and Security Specialist at the City of Guelph Water Services department. The acronym SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Aquisition (System). It is the SCADA system that looks after the day-to-day automatic control, monitoring and logging that keeps the City's drinking water system online. I'm fortunate to have a very good team of people to work with.
I'm quite active with the International Society of Automation (www.isa.org), of which I have been a member since 2004. They are a volunteer organization comprised some 36,000 technicians, engineers and facility owners who have an interest in sharing knowledge about process automation. I am currently involved with their local ISA Hamilton Section, the ISA Water/Wastewater Industry Division, and have helped them with their annual water/wastewater and automatic controls symposium. I also sit on the ISA18 Alarm Management and ISA101 Human Machine Interfaces standards committees as voting member. Recently, I was asked to sit on the Standards Council of Canada's SCC/IEC TC65 standards committee for industrial automation based on my standards committee work with the ISA.
The year 2011 was exciting year for me as it was the year I presented in my first international conference and also the year I appeared in print for the first time. The May/June 2011 issue of ISA InTech magazine included article on SCADA Standardization that I co-wrote with a friend of mine from the City of Guelph's Water Services department. We also presented a talk on the same project at the ISA water/wastewater and automatic controls symposium in St. Louis, Missouri, USA that same year. In a way it was foreshadowing, as I would later become the volunteer general chair of that sympoisum in 2012 and 2013. Since then I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be involved several other conferences and publish a number of technical papers.
Though I finished my engineering degree a long time ago, I do have to admit I still like studying. At present I am slowly working towards a B.A. in history, one course at a time. As a part-time student at the University of Guelph, I try to take one night course year. I think of it as having a weekly documentary where I can ask questions. Working on the arts courses is also a nice break from the engineering work I do during the day. Long term education goals? I'm not sure, but I'm not going to rule out doing a part-time MBA or MSc at some point.
Recently I have been doing some teaching at both the college and university level. I've been fortunate to be a guest instructor at Fleming College's municipal water operator program (aptly titled: AWSOM - Advanced water Systems Operations & Management) and taught night classes at Mohawk College and Conestoga College. At the University level, I teach an evening course on engineering law and ethics at McMaster University. As 2020, I will have taught my McMaster course five times - not sure why I get nervous before the first class of each semester, but I still do.
I have been playing musical instruments since I was about five years old. My first instrument was recorder, which I played quite seriously up until I was I was in high school. Not familiar with recorder music from the Baroque Period (1600-1750)? The repertoire is actually quite extensive with many notable composers such as Bach, Handel, Cornelli, Telemann and Vivaldi. Two of my favourites are Cornelli's Concerto in C, and Telemann's Suite in A-minor. At fifteen I made the decision that I did not want to study Baroque/Early Music in university, so I stopped what had been my regime of practicing two hours a day. I don't play much recorder any more, mostly because I can't seem to find the time.
When I was twelve I picked up the clarinet and have been playing ever since. I am pretty much self-taught - back in Grade 7, I asked school music teacher for a fingering chart and never looked back. While I was in high school I played in the senior band, a jazz band that I directed, and a number of other ensembles. Ever since high school, I have been quite active on the community music scene and have played with various different community bands and orchestras over the years. How much I play depends on how busy work gets, but I usually try to play with at least one group. In addition to playing Bb clarinet, I also play several "harmony" clarinets including: Eb clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet. I also occasionally noodle around on saxophone, trumpet and bassoon. Though I have to admit, I'm pretty lousy at playing the trumpet.
When I turned 40, my wife decided it was time that I became a "Real Engineer". She arranged for me to be "Engineer for the Day" for the steam train at Muskoka Heritage Park. So, at 40 years old, I finally learned how to drive a steam locomotive. Hence the photo on the right side of this page. Driving a train is actually a lot harder than it looks.
I enjopy getting out of the city whenever possible. I still get up to the family cottage, and try to travel whenever I can. On the water I still sail dinghies, and next summer I am considering joining a community sailing club that is nearby. Back in 1999, I became a certified SCUBA diver and love exploring underwater. Other hobbies include European history, English/French literature, canoeing, mountain biking, going to the opera, and pretending I know how to play golf.