What It’s Like to Be a Probe Operator
Oct 15, 2019 -
Like many people working in high resolution site characterization (HRSC), Cody Spiker didn’t know he’d end up here. His path to becoming a HRSC probe operator had a lot of bends in the road, but has earned him a career with mission and purpose. In this blog post, Cody shares his background, how he ended up in environmental services, and what it’s like to have dual roles as a driller and probe operator.
What career did you envision for yourself as a child? Why did it appeal to you?
Originally, I had a major interest in going into aerospace engineering. As a kid, I was always fascinated with the relatively ‘mundane’ aspects of aerospace with airplanes, gliders or similar. But my major interest was in the exciting ventures of space and space exploration. However, the realities of engineering are far more tedious and nitpicky than I would have figured, and I was able to embrace my other interest in geology pursue that as a career—far more happily, I believe.
What got you interested in a career in drilling/environmental services?
I was able to pursue my interest in Geology and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. To be able to use this professionally, it was a logical choice to pursue a career in environmental work, especially if that career focused on restoration and remediation.
How did you get the education and/or training you needed?
I came into this company as a very ‘green’ drilling helper with no prior knowledge of environmental remediation and reclamation. But I was very fortunate to have a few specific individuals who trained me about the nuances of drilling, first as a helper and then on a path to becoming a driller. These individuals—Steven Eddins, Kyle King and Caleb Trusty—had extraordinary patience during my “Orange Hat” phase, and kept my interest long enough to stick with Cascade until further opportunities came along.
After my “Orange Hat” phase, I was given the opportunity to join the high resolution site characterization (HRSC) team. Again, many helpful people such as Dan Caputo, Jamie Hoffman and Brad Carlson helped train me in becoming a contributing member of the HRSC team.
After I had experience under my belt, I was able to start securing state licensures in drilling and thanks to the mentorship I received, I had the knowledge and on-site training to be able to secure my Oregon and Idaho state drilling licenses. I have also had the opportunity to run HRSC jobs utilizing UVOST, MIHPT, Slug and WaterlooAPS for site characterization techniques, essentially balancing my career as both a driller and HRSC probe operator.
What were you doing professionally before you joined Cascade and/or this industry?
Before starting at Cascade, I had graduated six months earlier from university. Before starting at CU Boulder, I worked for a telecom contractor in rural Colorado.
Since joining the company, have you had opportunities for mentorship, to further your training, or to earn certifications? If so, please explain what they were and if you’ve found them helpful.
I recently have had the opportunity to guide new Orange Hat employees. Having come into this company with no experience in environmental drilling, I understand how certain aspects of this job can be difficult or foreign. Being able to mentor these newer employees has helped me come full circle and to contribute to the company and repay those who helped me.
I plan to continue expanding my field services knowledge and earn additional certifications to further my standing and position in Cascade.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Simply, there is no typical work day with this job, especially with one foot in drilling and one in HRSC. In the span of a month, I have been in five states performing tasks and jobs that vary greatly from one another. That can cause a whiplash effect at times, but it will never be a mundane job.
What do friends or family say when you tell them about your career?
Cascade Drilling does something unique that not many other companies do. We are the unsung heroes that are fixing this environment (and ultimately the planet) from past transgressions. So, explaining what we do can come off as a foreign concept to most with no knowledge of the environmental drilling industry. But, to those than understand what I do, they generally say something along the lines of, “I’m glad someone is doing it.”
What advice would you give other people who might be considering a career in drilling/environmental services?
It depends on what aspect of this job a prospective employee is interested in. On the largest scale, what Cascade does is simply ‘cool.’ We are the unsung heroes at the forefront of cleaning this planet from ourselves. But this is a bit cliché to some and a bit heavy to others. If you want to get your hands dirty and stop talking and start fixing these environmental issues mankind has created in the last century, this is a good way to get started.
On a more practical level, I can say that I have had the opportunity to travel and meet individuals from a lot of different backgrounds who all are part of Cascade. So, whatever your background, if you want to be part of the Cascade team and can commit your attention and learn, Cascade can benefit from you and vice versa.
Interested in learning more about becoming a Probe Operator? Check out our current openings for more information.