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Cabling Canadian-Style

In a quiet, picturesque town called Paradise -- just a stone's throw from St. John's, Newfoundland, a man named Patrick Dunn is slowly and steadily working for the professional advancement of Canadian...

January 1, 2000  

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In a quiet, picturesque town called Paradise — just a stone’s throw from St. John’s, Newfoundland, a man named Patrick Dunn is slowly and steadily working for the professional advancement of Canadian cabling professionals.

Dunn, 36, has banded together with other like-minded individuals to form a Canadian chapter of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), an organization that works toward advancing training, certification and standards in the industry.

Auspicious beginnings

It all started in 1995 at Cable Atlantic, the East coast communications company for which Dunn works as a Senior HFC Return Technician. The company’s VP of Operations, Jerry George, had just returned from the SCTE’s annual Cable-Tec Expo trade show in Las Vegas.

He was impressed with what he saw of the SCTE — the U.S.-based non-profit professional organization that promotes the sharing of knowledge in the field of cable TV and broadband communications.

Upon returning north of the border, George had an idea brewing. He decided it was time to get something similar going on his home soil and lobbied to get a Canadian meeting group started. Dave O’Leary, Senior Maintenance Technician at Cable Atlantic, set the wheels in motion, and then Dunn and six other employees jumped on board.

“We wanted to be on the leading edge of training in the cable industry,” says Dunn of his reasons for getting involved. “SCTE does all their own certification and it was important to us to be a part of that.”

They gathered some books, did some research and in February, 1995, appointed themselves the Board of Directors, with Dunn as Secretary and spokesperson, and Dave O’Leary as President.

Then they got to work developing their own rules and bylaws, and making the U.S. material applicable to Canadians. After they had convened for a year and put in over 40 hours of the required technical training, the group officially became the Terra Nova Chapter — the 75th and only international chapter of the SCTE — on March 1, 1996.

They have been going strong ever since. Over the past few years, two other cable companies — Community Cable and Regional Cable — have come aboard, local suppliers and other businesses have lent support, and their numbers have grown from eight to 70 members.

“Our main goal is to maintain and grow the chapter — and keep the interest there and keep the training going,” says Dunn, who has been VP for the past two years and hopes to assume the presidency in another year or two.

“The cabling industry is one of most rapidly growing industries in North America now,” he says. “This industry is not a monopoly anymore, and with competition, everything has to be certified and done to the best of its capability or its just not going to succeed.”

Committed to the cause

However, these past few years have not been easy; forming, building and maintaining the chapter entails a lot of hard work, or “a big commitment,” as Dunn politely refers to it.

For instance, there are bi-monthly chapter meetings to plan, board meetings to attend, speakers to organize, fundraising to manage and budgets to consider. In addition, there is the training itself — and nearly everyone in their chapter is taking part in some kind of course, whether it be cable installation or broadband communications.

Then, of course, there is that thing called a “day job” to consider. Dunn is very busy in his life as a technician — which also keeps him “on call” around-the-clock for two weeks every month.

There is also the matter of a busy home life, which has recently been consumed with fixing up his new house, which he just moved into with his wife and three daughters. That barely leaves time for his major automobile fixation — restoring old cars, NASCAR, and model building.

“It’s a pretty hectic schedule,” he admits. But alas, it is all worth it, he says, for always learning, always staying on the cutting edge, and always moving forward is what it is all about — and what keeps it exciting.

Says Dunn: “Our industry moves so fast. You have to always be on top of the technology, because three months down the road what you learned is almost history.” CS

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