Justin Vigneux graduated from Niagara College’s Renewable Energy Technician program in 2013. He spent one year with the Research &Innovation division as a Research Assistant during his studies. After working in the wind turbine field, he started his current position as a Wind Turbine Technician in 2018 with Boralex Inc., a renewable energy power production company.
Tell us about where you work:
I currently work for Boralex Inc. (in Tilbury, Ontario) an energy production company. We own and operate power production facilities across Canada, France and New York State in all different forms of fuel sources. We operate wind, solar, hydro and biomass power generation facilities.
Describe your role and what you like about it:
We have just taken over the maintenance contract from the manufacturer and we are the first wind farm for Boralex to do this in all of Canada. In a sense, we are the guinea pigs in getting ready for the take-over of the maintenance contracts for all of our wind farms in Canada. This is especially cool for me because I like being able to participate in the improvement processes for paving the way for all of the other wind farms.
Please give us an idea of what types of related things you’ve been doing prior to your current position:
I previously worked for a wind turbine manufacturer that is German-based. I was the first full-time Technical Trainer to be employed here in Canada. I was responsible for travelling to Germany for my own training then travelling across Canada to deliver training to over 200 technicians. I have also managed the service operations of a wind farm.
How has your R&I experience helped you prepare for your current role?
The experience has helped me a lot in all of my positions since graduating from Niagara College. It was the first chance that I had to experience project-based employment where we had to sit and meet on a regular basis to keep everyone on the team up-to-date on the things we were working on. It also introduced me to things like budgeting, deadlines and experimental troubleshooting.
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
I assisted very briefly with the Papernuts project on an electrical assembly perspective while working with Brian Mewhiney (professor and Research Faculty Lead).
What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
I was not enjoying my employment at the time and wanted to go to school for something technical but wasn’t sure what for. My brother had recently met with a career counsellor at NC and they had enthralled him with this new exciting program being offered for the first time. Living in Niagara Falls, NC was an obvious choice for me.
“I like being able to participate in the improvement processes for paving the way for all of the other wind farms.”
Most memorable experience at NC?
I would have to say that my most memorable experience at NC was working with the other students in my program; we have made a strong bond and a friendship that will last a long time.
Proudest achievement since graduating:
My proudest achievement since graduating was getting to be a part of the Niagara Region Wind Farm Commissioning, as this was, during the time, the erection of Canada’s largest wind turbines.
Any faculty members or research leads who influenced you?
Absolutely, I enjoyed working with all the faculty involved with R&I but specifically, I worked the closest with Brian Mewhiney, Costa Aza, Wing Pak, and Gary Dolch.
What advice would you impart on current research students or future alumni?
Enjoy your experience working with the industry partners; ask as many questions as you can and never stop learning.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
I have learned so much since graduating from college. Learning how to be a good teammate and a hard worker are some of the things that I value most in what I have learned since college.
What are your interests outside of work?
I had a young family when starting at NC – my daughter was less than a year-old when I started and now I have a second daughter who is four years old. I would say that being a good role model for my daughters and spending quality family time with them is my favourite thing to do.
If you could have a billboard message, what would it say?
Never act selfishly! Always think of our future generations!