NEM 2024 Interview Series: Bruce Power

Insights from Courtney Sauveur: Shaping the Future of Engineering at Bruce Power

As National Engineering Month continues, we’re spotlighting influential figures in Canada’s engineering landscape to understand their vision for the industry’s future.

Recently I met with Courtney Sauveur, P.Eng. Department Manager, Reactor, Mechanical, Civil Design to talk about her experiences as a Professional Engineer at Bruce Power.

Q1. Tell me a bit about yourself & your background.

I grew up on the East Coast of Canada, completing all of my education there before moving to Ontario in 2015 to join Bruce Power. Starting as a Mechanical Designer and engineering trainee within the organization, I found myself drawn to mentorship beyond the strictly technical aspects of my job. Building on this, I transitioned into a role as a Section Manager, overseeing reactor design. Since then, I have progressed to my current position as Department Manager of Reactor, Mechanical, Civil Design Engineering at Bruce Power. In this role, my team is responsible for modifications to conventional, nuclear, or civil systems, as well as changes impacting pressure boundary, outside of our major component replacement scope. As the first woman to hold this position at Bruce Power, I prioritize the development of women within my team, focusing on both technical skills and soft skills.

Q2. Why is National Engineering Month important to you and the engineering profession overall?

National Engineering Month provides an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the past year, beyond the routine tasks like performance reviews. It’s a chance to consider both technical and professional achievements. Additionally, mentorship offers a valuable opportunity for reflection. As a mentor, observing the growth of your mentees over the year allows for introspection. I also firmly believe that every engineer plays a role in advancing the profession. This entails encouraging others, engaging with the community, and participating in initiatives to promote diversity and inclusivity within the engineering field.

Q3. The theme for NEM 2024 is lifelong learning. What does the concept of lifelong learning mean to you? Why is lifelong learning important in the work that you do?

In the nuclear industry, we have this idea called continuous improvement and it’s really embedded in everything that we do. The idea that you can always get better and you can always support safety and make sure that we’re always learning from previous mistakes we’ve made and what we can do to be better. Lifelong learning is very synonymous with “I can always do better.” It’s always important to check your knowledge to make sure you’re keeping up with new advancements, new developments, and all of the things that everybody is learning in school today. I think it’s important to make sure that you keep your skills sharp because we have such an important role to the public.

The safety of the public and personnel working on site is number one for Bruce Power. Also in this industry, we really strive ourselves on innovation. As we’re going through our major component replacements and our life extension programs, we’re really focused on how we can do something better whether it’s new technology or learning new skills.

If you think about in the 60s and 70s when the technologies were being developed, the skills or the tools that they had available were very different from what we have now. We have the ability to 3D model the plant or part and make sure it will fit. We can also do advanced computational fluid modelling to ensure that whatever we’re going to do isn’t going to have an impact. Being able to use those tools day-to-day, I think, gives us an edge.

Q4. Can you tell me a little more about Bruce Power and the types of projects you work on?

Bruce Power is the largest operating nuclear power plant in the world. We operate 8 nuclear reactors that are distributed across two stations. With nuclear energy being clean energy, we have commitments for climate change and providing clean energy. Currently, we are also looking at an opportunity to add an additional 4,800 megawatts to the grid through new technology assessment for additional reactors. So, there’s a lot of really exciting things happening at Bruce Power.

The types of projects that I work on, or that my team works on, are more focused on life extension. We’re going to operate until 2064, and as part of that, we’re refurbishing our units. As part of their major component replacements and life extension, we’re upgrading a bunch of assets to support extended operation of the units. My team will do modifications to change heat exchangers and add the Lu-177 into the reactor. That’s a cancer-fighting isotope used to treat prostate cancer that we make here on-site at Bruce Power. We do other things as well, but large-scale mechanical and reactor-type projects are the ones that my team will support, as well as day-to-day support for the stations.

Q5. How has the engineering profession changed over the past 5 to 10 years & how is Bruce Power capitalizing on those changes?

For me, the significant change I’ve seen in the last 10 years is the increasing diversity entering the profession with new grads. Women, people of colour, and all kinds of diverse voices are now able to challenge the status quo or offer opinions and new ways of doing things that maybe we hadn’t considered before. Having people who are willing to say, “Hey, I need you to explain this to me,” or “I don’t think that’s right,” because they have a different background or experience, is really valuable for the professional world.

Another aspect we’ve touched on is technology. I’ve seen the development over the last 10 years, especially in the integration of that technology, really change how we work day-to-day. The tools we have, the communication abilities, and all the things that we now have available to us that we’ve incorporated into our day-to-day to make life easier, I see as being very different than when I entered the industry 10 years ago.

Bruce Power is capitalizing on this; we definitely promote diversity in the workforce. We understand the importance that diversity plays day-to-day. We also initiated a women’s forum to help address some of the barriers that women may face in working in the nuclear industry. There are all kinds of opportunities like Women in Nuclear, and Bruce Power is very supportive of people pursuing these additional activities outside of work.

Q6. Are there any specific programs, initiatives, or outcomes happening at Bruce Power that you’d like to tell me about?

We discussed the women’s forum. That’s something that we created to address issues impacting women such as remote work and family responsibilities, which could be barriers to women entering or staying in the workforce. There’s a lot of conversation around that and actions can be put in place to support them.

Apart from how the engineering profession has changed, I think the fact that it has changed in the last 20 years, has enabled Bruce Power to implement several exciting programs. We have major component replacement where we’re refurbishing units 3 to 8 to support operation until 2064. We’re also planning for the future with the potential to build new reactors on-site and explore new technologies, along with life extension activities. All the equipment changes and support during outages are part of this. I believe the progress we’ve made as an engineering profession, and our continuous challenge to the status quo, has enabled us to execute some of these long-term vision items.

Q7. What does the future of engineering look like and how does your company fit into that?

The future of engineering looks very different than it maybe did when I was in university, in that the future of engineering is very diverse. The idea of what a Professional Engineer looks like is vastly different than what it was 15 years ago.

The future of engineering is also very bright as we continue to look at new technologies and tools. One of the things that is important is to ensure that your skills stay sharp. Once you become an engineer and you’re in the field, making sure that you’re aware of new technology, embracing it, and looking at new ways of innovating is crucial. Otherwise, you can become stagnant, making it much harder for others to work with you, potentially as well as for you to work within your company. Bruce Power fits into that; we strongly support innovation and all the exciting opportunities that are really changes to the engineering profession, supporting that.

For me personally, I have two siblings, one at university and one just graduating high school, and they both have chosen to pursue engineering. I don’t know if that’s directly related to the passion that I have for the work, but nobody in my family previously was an engineer, and now they see this as a potential career path and opportunity. My sister is very involved in all of the diversity options that she has at McGill University, and my brother, when he goes to Dalhousie University, will surely do similar things. The idea that this is a career path available for them, that they think will be sustainable and good for their entire career, is exciting for me. They are embarking on that now with all the same excitement that I had when I entered the industry.

Q8. Any final thoughts?

Every engineer’s role is to ensure they represent the field adequately. When you get your pinky ring and become a Professional Engineer, the role you play to the public is crucial. Sometimes, people only think about that in terms of safety, which is obviously paramount. However, ensuring we have a sustainable field for years to come is equally important. That involves getting new people interested, being involved, encouraging others to join, and ensuring we have a sustainable engineering firm for the next 50 years.

Learn. Grow. Thrive. Together. 

National Engineering Month is Ontario’s platform for celebrating the remarkable world of engineering. With a dynamic mix of insightful discussions, industry expertise, and diverse viewpoints, we’re showcasing the best of the profession. Join us in advancing engineering excellence, igniting interest in future professionals, and recognizing the vital role engineers play in society. Be a part of the #NEM2024 experience by attending an event. Explore all the exciting details at

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