As a kid, Madaleine Fulton was good at math and science and she loved to take things apart, though at that point she couldn’t put them back together.
In Grade 10, when two university students did a demonstration with a thermocouple fan and hot and cold water, that was when it clicked.
“I was like, ‘I want to learn how to do that and I will be able to have a job when I am finished’,” said Fulton, who is now a long time electrical engineer for BC Hydro.
Fulton went straight to the University of Victoria’s engineering program after graduating from high school. In second year she chose the electrical stream.
“It is such a wide field. Electrical engineering can be everything from coding to wiring to everything in between and I felt that it had the best breadth for being able to find a slot that worked the best for me,” she said.
She was one of 13 women in a class of around 170. According to Engineers Canada’s national membership report, 17 per cent of newly licensed engineers were women in 2016. The Mirror is catching up with local women who work in male dominated industries, because, as Fulton said, when girls see women in a male dominated industry they think “I can do that too!” and when boys see women in a male dominated industry they look at the girls sitting next to them and think “She can do that too!”
As part of the electrical engineering program, Fulton did a series of co-op placements, two with BC Hydro. As luck would have it, after graduating and doing a celebratory backpacking trip through Europe, Fulton landed a job with BC Hydro in the same group she had done a co-op with.
For her first six years with BC Hydro, Fulton worked in a tower-full of engineers in Burnaby. She specialized in generators and travelled all over the province fixing them.
Eventually she became sick of all the travelling. In 2006 she and her now husband, who is currently working on the John Hart Replacement Project, moved to Campbell River.
Now, instead of focusing on generators, Fulton works with a crew and handles all sorts of equipment from powerhouses to switch yards at all six of BC Hydro’s generating stations on the Island. She is one of three engineers on the team.
“I like the challenge of the equipment here,” she said. “I think all places are unique snowflakes and have wonderful challenges where ever they are, but the equipment here is special, it’s old, it keeps working and you are rooting for it and I like that about it, you’ve got to keep it going.”
The new John Hart Generating Station is scheduled to go online this summer. Until then Fulton and the crew will be working to keep the old generators running. Once the switch-over is complete the company contracted to build the station will continue to maintain it for the next 15 years.
Luckily, with six other generating stations on the Island Fulton will still have a job in Campbell River and eventually she will transition into working with the new generators as well.
Fulton doesn’t plan on leaving Campbell River anytime soon. She loves the city and believes it is the perfect place to raise her family, and she loves working for BC Hydro.
“I work with excellent people,” she said. “I work with people who care about the equipment. We have got dams on the salmon capital of the world river.
“We care a lot about the river, we care about public safety, we care about generation and we care about the environment. I like that that is holistic in what we do.”