Power Engineer's careers can be as EASY as 1, 2, 3, 4.
Power Engineering can be and
look easy but...
 
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If you are working out in the units and have a Control Room Operator directing some of your work efforts many things can be very straight forward.
 
 
Some things are really easy to do like, one, two, three, four…
Lets start a pump.




 
 
Want to start an instrument air compressor?? Very similar.




 
 
 
 
  If you need to increase a pressure or flow you just increase the set point like increasing the set point on your thermostat for the furnace in your home.
 
Don’t worry. They'll never ask you to understand this computer controls stuff. This is only if you have an extraordinary interest in it.

All that is required of you to do is just reposition some toggle switches to get the desired result. The toggles are basically used to start and stop pumps and to open and close valves. Other devices are used to control flows and pressures etc.

That was the easy part.  This career can be extremely easy at times and other times you can be racing around like a wild man. It comes and it goes.  Don't get the idea that easy is business as usual.  It isn't.  It may look easy to an outsider watching a seasoned professional but, that's only because the professional has worked hard to know the facility they are working in.  There are many days and nights where they really have to work very hard and use their noodle to do the right things, at the right time, at the right speed and in the prescribed fashion.  They have to know all the ramifications of starting that pump.  What happens upstream and downstream when they push the button.  How it effects pressure, flows, temperatures, levels, vessels, exchangers in numerous systems that may be directly or indirectly influenced.  It takes training, desire, talent, effort and years of dedication.  Do you have what it takes to be the best you can be?  If you do, this could be what you are looking for.

You really have to know and understand the operating principles of processes and equipment, what the dangers are and what the idiosyncrasies of the systems are.  It takes many years of training and operating to get proficient at what we do here.  It is not a cake walk.

When you watch a professional go through the motions they really make it look like it is easy.  Just remember, it took years of effort for that operator to get to that point.  Even though they may make it look easy, at the end of many shifts, an operator goes home very tired.

If you are working as a Control Room Operator it can be more complex and very nerve racking. It can also look rather relaxing if you really have it all together and it's an unusually quiet day. Again it may look easy and like the Control Room Operator is relaxing but, he/she is constantly focusing on what is going on in every part of the facility and mapping out in their mind, what they will do throughout the day as the day's priorities change.  Again it takes years of hard work to get there.  For those who have the desire it comes with time.

If the control room is like this old system you see me standing in front of on the upper photo, it can be relatively easy to operate equipment via remote control.

The other more complex device for controlling plant operations is a DCS or Distributed Control System.

This thing I'm sitting in front of is called a computerized control system or DCS. Lots to know about this thing and that's because it does lots. You’d have to have a wall of switches and controllers a mile long to keep up with everything this thing can do. Fortunately there are other professionals on site that handle most of the technical items for this. All the Control Room Operator has to do is operate the equipment out in the units with it via the television screens you see. As the years go on you get more and more comfortable with it.  But again, there is lots to know about computerized control systems like this.

These computerized control systems are very reliable but, they do have their problems and you are expected to know how to remedy some of them.  If it's 2 o'clock in the morning with no one around to help, you'd better be on top of your training so you know what to do.  There are higher function and more complicated issues that do arise from time to time but, that will be for the specialists to deal with.  When that happens, it's time to get some one out of bed.  And it never matters how important the issues are, you'll never be totally comfortable calling people at 2 AM.

The pay is more in the Control Room and they never put you in the Control Room unless you want it and are capable. Don’t ever get the idea they'll force you into it. That would be like you being a bus driver and your employer telling you that you are now going to be a racing car driver. Not everyone is cut out to do it. I like it because it is a more challenging and cleaner work environment. Ya, I like the higher pay scale too.


 
 
To see the
full photographic
version web site
with tons of great photos
CLICK HERE to go to
StationaryEngineers.com

MY P.E.T. CAREER
THE Power Engineer's E-Handbook
By David C. Perry Copyright 1990 to 2004 All rights reserved.  Updated April 2004.


 
 
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Copyright 1990 to 2003 David C. Perry
All rights reserved