Meet Laura: Ontario Power Generation Engineer and Scientists in School Alumna

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Laura Brooks, who has a Bachelor of Computing with a specialization in Software Design from Queen’s University, is currently pursuing a Graduate diploma in Nuclear Technology from the Ontario Tech University. Laura is one of the 10 million young scientists who experienced the fun and excitement of Scientists in School as a child. When she talks about her favourite Scientists in School memories—building structures, learning all about bugs, and seeing her world up close through a microscope—her face lights up.

“Science was always one of my favourite classes, but being able to participate in Scientists in School workshops made me see that science could be fun. Looking forward to the workshops every year kept me excited and helped lead me to where I am today,” Laura says.

Today, Laura works as an engineer at Ontario Power Generation’s X-Lab. The X-Lab team, composed of engineers, radiation protection technicians, operators, maintainers, and security personnel, uses innovative technology like virtual reality, 3D printers, smartboards and Google Glass to help improve the plant’s employee training and make work processes more efficient. The X-Lab, for instance, created a virtual reality training system that enables employees to see and feel what it’s like to walk through a power plant before they actually step out into the field.

This highly innovative and forward-thinking type of work environment is perfect for a young engineer with big ambitions of exploring her world through scientific discovery. Given her early interest in science, it’s no surprise that Laura ended up pursuing a career in engineering. With an interest in math and science as a teenager, Laura took a computer science course that would end up changing her life. Her inspiring science teacher, who made STEM fun and relatable, helped Laura think about what she could do with these kinds of skills outside of school and turn them into a career. Getting children and youth excited about science early on will lead to more people pursuing careers in STEM, she says. Scientists in School workshops offer enriching opportunities for children and youth to see themselves in this growing field.

[Scientists in School is] a different way to look at science and have fun. Students may not even realize how much they’re learning because they’re taking an approach to learning that’s different from the traditional classroom setting,” Laura says.

When asked about the future of her field, Laura is looking forward to the possibilities of what she can explore.

“The technology field is exciting because it is constantly changing,” Laura says. “Some of the technology we are using today may have been just a dream even five years ago so it is hard to know how the field is going. Right now, I will continue my efforts focusing on virtual reality and augmented reality.”

Scientists in School was thrilled to collaborate with Ontario Power Generation to showcase Laura’s job as an engineer at OPG’s X-Lab in our Discover Your STEM Career video series. Watch the video here!

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