A thick fog quickly rolls in while
Michael Tamosauskas collects glacial till samples atop a mountain in Nunavut.
With his nearest colleague at least 100 metres away, Michael’s radio alerts him
that an emergency helicopter pick-up is on its way before the pilot loses more
When the roar of the helicopter
sounds close, all Michael can see is the thick, white fog enveloping him. “I
was kind of panicking because if they couldn’t pick me up for a certain period,
I would have to camp out on the tundra overnight,” said Michael.
The helicopter pilot, with
Michael’s crew on board, struggles to spot Michael and, when he does, there is
nowhere nearby to safely land.
“I made the decision to sprint –
and fall – down the side of this mountain to flatland, where he was able to
pick me up… with him and my crew laughing at my tumble down the mountain,” said
Fleming Career Fair leads to summer employment at GroundTruth Exploration
The opportunity for Michael to spend his summer working at GroundTruth Exploration, a mineral exploration company, came from attending the annual Career Fair at Fleming’s Frost Campus. At the time, Michael was an Earth Resources Technician Co-op student looking for work experience in his field.
Michael has spent the past couple
summers working for GroundTruth Exploration; first in Nunavut, later in
Labrador. The company, based in Dawson City, Yukon, is involved in gold
exploration projects across northern Canada and begins a new project in Alaska
As an Exploration Field
Technician, Michael marked soil sample site locations, collected soil samples
and described their physical attributes. He worked four weeks on, one week off,
and then another 4 weeks on, with workdays being seven to eight hours.
“Nunavut was a very unique place to work,” said Michael, adding that his camp was approximately 200km north of the nearest town, Rankin Inlet, and had about 200 people working there. He describes the camp as well-developed, including a wastewater treatment facility, clean washrooms, and professional chefs who cooked for everyone.
“While working in Nunavut in the
summer, I was subject to 24/7 daylight, which took a while to get used to;
although I was always so tired by the end of my workdays, I did not need
darkness to fall asleep,” he said. “Also, the lack of trees on the tundra made
it easy to spot all sorts of wildlife, such as caribou and wolves.”
He returned to GroundTruth
Exploration the following summer and was assigned a project in Labrador, where
he was one of a five-member crew.
“I found life in Labrador a
little more rough,” Michael said, explaining that his crew assembled their
kitchen/office tent, dry tent, and personal tents to sleep in. “The scenery of
Labrador is gorgeous, although the bugs I had to deal with daily were
horrendous. To make my workdays bearable, I needed to wear bug nets and apply
bug spray on my skin every 20 minutes or so.’
‘Although, the helicopter rides
and the interesting rocks I spotted up there made up for it!” he added.
This summer, Michael will be working in Dawson City, Yukon, as a
Geologist, sampling soil and rock using a GeoProbe. He will then utilize X-Ray
Fluorescence to determine whether the samples have high concentrations of
arsenic and/or iron, which can indicate gold.
Co-op placement and applied learning gives
Michael Tamosauskas a competitive advantage in geology field
Michael has always found Earth dynamics extremely interesting, so
when he began exploring post-secondary options, his heart was set on geology. But
with mainly college-level high school credits, Michael ran into issues trying
to get into a university geology program.
He met with his guidance counsellor to research college geology
programs and discovered that Fleming College’s Earth Resources Technician
program features a paid, six month co-op, which he believes is incredibly
valuable. Michael enrolled in the program and describes his two years at Frost
Campus as an excellent experience.
“For my ERT Co-op term, I was a Geotechnical Field Technician for
Golder Associates. This summer experience was an excellent foundation for my
career, as I had no prior relevant work experience,” he said. “That experience
on my resume has drawn interest from every job interviewer I have had so far.”
After graduating from Fleming in 2017, Michael used Fleming’s education pathway to Acadia University to earn his Bachelor of Science in Geology.
“Before I went to Fleming, I believed I was not fit to go to
university. But I realized my potential throughout my two years there,” said
Michael. “I give ERT faculty a lot of credit because they did a great job
teaching the complex subject of geology within a two-year span and prepared me
well for studying geology in university.”
Michael recommends the ERT program to others because of its
applied learning opportunities, including field trips, projects within the
Drilling and Blasting facility, and mandatory co-op placement.
“I found that this experience gave me quite the advantage compared
to my fellow university students, since the university approach is mainly
theoretical rather than practical,” he said.
Michael plans to gain more experience as a mineral exploration
geologist and is interested in focusing on the business side of mining in the
future. He is currently enrolled to complete his Honours project with an Acadia
University professor and, once he graduates from his degree program, Michael would
like to pursue graduate studies and conduct research with an economic geology