A Day in the Life of Bob Dean can include looking after about 220 PCs, fixing an electronic failure on a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, or replacing the laser on the Fourier transform infrared spectrometer. Dean has been an electronics technician in the chemistry department for the past 28 years. As a result of lay-offs in the ’90s, his unit lost one person and was reduced from operating as engineering technologists designing and building curciuts to mainly doing repairs. Because there are only two people in his unit, they are busy all the time.
His greatest satisfaction comes from helping people with equipment they need to get their work done. “It would be hollow without that. Hardware is just a means to an end,” he says. Dean maintains an undergraduate computer lab of about 20 computers and helps graduate students with computer problems related to their research. “A computer problem can be a crisis for their research and needs to be fixed immediately.”
After high school in Victoria, his interest in math and science led him to technical school. “Since then I’ve had the curse of full employment,” he laughs. “Never laid off and steady employment for 45 years.” Dean started his working career with a pioneering radio communication firm. After working for an electronics company, he moved to work for the City of Victoria and then to UVic, where he could do circuit design and instrument construction, work he finds challenging and diverse.
He enjoys his motorcycle and, in spite of an accident that left him with a broken leg, he wouldn’t give it up. On Sunday mornings he rides up island. “I’ve had eggs Benedict everywhere between here and Courtenay.” He raced his sailboat for about three years and likes to travel on family trips with his wife and daughters. “I’ve enjoyed the electronics field, met some nice people and worked in nice places. It’s been good. You’re lucky if you can find a field that works for you.”