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The basics of what a P.E.T./Stationary Engineer does is to monitor and adjust flows, velocities, levels, temperatures, and pressures. Repair and make recommendations for repair of equipment, as well as supervise other personnel. You are responsible for the safe, efficient and legal operation of industrial or commercial equipment.
As a P.E.T./Stationary Engineer you may perform many tasks in a plant including supervising trades people, contractors and other P.E.T./Stationary Engineers who are on shift with you. You could be responsible for a very small operation or a very large one with many trades and disciplines under your direction. You could be part of a sales team selling industrial or commercial instrumentation, electrical, mechanical, or chemical products. You could be part of or in charge of a Federal, state, civic, provincial or corporate inspection team traveling extensively or, locally situated.
This career provides a huge window of opportunity for knowledge and employment.
w MILLWRIGHT MECHANICS,
w MANAGEMENT THEORY,
w WATER TREATMENT,
w COMBUSTION ENGINEERING,
w BOILER OPERATION AND DESIGN,
w DIESEL ENGINE OPERATION,
w JET ENGINE OPERATION,
w STEAM TURBINES AND RECIPROCATING STEAM ENGINES,
w MECHANICAL DRAFTING AND ENGINEERING DESIGN,
w STEEL AND METAL FOUNDERING,
w PULP AND PAPER MANUFACTURING,
w PIPE FITTING, STEAM FITTING, GAS FITTING
w LUBRICANTS AND LUBRICATION TECHNOLOGY,
w ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, HEATING AND VENTILATION, AIR CONDITIONING,
w CHEMISTRY, INDUSTRIAL AND PUBLIC WATER TREATMENT & LAB PROCEDURES,
Employers are always looking for well trained individuals. Multi-disciplined people are an employer's dream. Numerous disciplines for the price of one. They get real excited about P.E.T. and Stationary Engineers.
This technology diploma, which is new to the U.S., provides people who have the desire to succeed with a multitude of skills to foot the bill for many industrial and commercial opportunities.
Employers in Canada have been taking advantage of this for decades. Employers from the U.S. have done the same with their Stationary Engineers. Some have noted the advantages of P.E.T. and Stationary Engineers and have advertised specifically for Canadian trained Engineers for their operations in the U.S. and around the world. So there is a distinct advantage for U.S. citizens to get their diploma in as much as there is for Canadians to do the same. Excellent money is to be made in either case, at home or abroad. Those who choose to acquire their diploma will be part of a elite and rare breed.
You learn everything pertinent to the operation of industrial and commercial equipment. Along with that, you will have mysteries revealed to you like, the principle of how your television works, how your refrigerator works, how your car's engine works, what the difference is between a rocket engine and a jet turbine.
The world of technology is yours to know and to master.
A typical day in the life of a P.E.T. or Stationary Engineer in a boiler house operation may go something like this:
07:00 BLOW DOWN WATER COLUMNS ON EACH BOILER TO CHECK LOW WATER SHUT DOWNS AND ALARMS ARE WORKING.
07:15 DO WALK AROUND TO DO VISUAL CHECKS OF EQUIPMENT
07:45 DO WATER TESTS AND ADD CHEMICALS FOR WATER TREATMENT.
08:15 ATTEND MORNING MEETING WITH OTHER PERSONNEL TO DISCUSS ITEMS OF CONCERN, PREVIOUS DAYS WORK AND UP COMING TASKS
09:15 DO READING SHEET FOR EQUIPMENT CHECKS. NOTE ABNORMALITIES.
10:00 COFFEE BREAK
10:15 ATTEND TO MAINTENANCE ITEMS, I/E: PIPE FITTING CLEAN UP WORK AREA
11:45 DO VISUAL EQUIPMENT CHECKS, BLOW DOWN AIR RECEIVER AND FILTER ELEMENTS
12:00 LUNCH TIME
13:00 BACK WASH SAND FILTERS
13:30 DO READINGS AND EQUIPMENT CHECKS
14:00 PAINT SOME PIPING
14:45 COFFEE BREAK
15:00 REGENERATE A ZEOLITE SOFTENER
16:00 DO SOME CORRESPONDENCE STUDYING
16:30 DO VISUAL EQUIPMENT CHECKS
17:00 CONTINUE STUDYING
18:00 DO VISUAL EQUIPMENT CHECKS
18:15 CONTINUE STUDIES
18:45 CLEAN UP AND PREPARE FOR SHIFT RELIEF AT 19:00
Typical duties for a P.E.T. or Stationary Engineer as a process operator may be very similar:
07:00 DO VISUAL CHECKS OF EQUIPMENT
09:00 DO READINGS AND VISUAL CHECKS OF EQUIPMENT
10:00 COFFEE BREAK
DO LAB TEST OF PROCESS PRODUCTS. DETERMINE IF ADJUSTMENTS TO THE UNIT ARE NECESSARY AND IF SO CARRY THEM OUT TO ENSURE PRODUCT IS ON SPECIFICATION. CROSS REFERENCE LAB RESULTS WITH ON LINE ANALYZERS TO ENSURE RELIABILITY OF INSTRUMENTS.
11:00 DO VISUAL CHECKS OF EQUIPMENT. MAY FIND A CONTROL VALVE THAT ISN'T WORKING AS WELL AS IT COULD. MAKE CHANGES TO THE TUNING PARAMETERS BRING ABOUT A MORE UNIFORM AND CONSISTENT CONTROL CHARACTERISTIC..
12:00 LUNCH BREAK
13:00 DO READINGS AND VISUAL CHECKS ON EQUIPMENT. PUMP DOWN LIQUID LEVELS IN KNOCK OUT VESSELS TO PREVENT CARRY OVER OF LIQUIDS. PERFORM A MANUAL DUE POINT ON PROPANE SALES FLUIDS.
15:00 COFFEE BREAK.
15:15 DO VISUAL CHECKS OF EQUIPMENT. TOP UP LUBRICATING OIL LEVELS IN COMPRESSORS. START UP BOOSTER COMPRESSOR STATION.
17:00 DO READINGS AND VISUAL CHECKS OF EQUIPMENT
17:30 CLEAN SUCTION SCREEN ON GLYCOL CIRCULATING PUMP.
18:00 PREPARE FOR SHIFT CHANGE AND CLEAN UP.
17:00 SHIFT CHANGE.
Let's keep in mind, this is a typical day. Not all days are typical. You can have equipment issues that can keep you running all day long. At the end of a day like this you feel as though you have accomplished absolutely nothing even though you may be totally exhausted.
As one of my instructors put it to us years ago, "You are nothing but high priced baby sitters!". Well he is right but, only to a point. There are times when some folks bring a hobby to work with them because, there is not a lot to do or so it may seem. In some facilities that is tolerated and others not. It depends on the nature of the facilities function and the prevailing attitudes of fellow workers and management. I recommend just finding stuff to do around the facility. There is always something to do. You need to keep yourself occupied and take some professional pride in how you maintain the work area, if you can.
In as much as there are days where you have to actually look for something to keep yourself occupied there are other days you are run off your feet. This is what can make or break a persons interest in this career. If you can tolerate this kind of change in pace you will do well. It is a matter of discipline.
There are jobs where you are technically challenged on a daily basis to keep the place running or from blowing up. There are other jobs where you don't run the equipment and you have little time for thinking, the equipment runs "you" all day. Kind of a steady mindless pace with no room for free thought or autonomy. Again there are other jobs where once the equipment is up and running it just purrs along and all you do is polish the brass (If you talk to the old timers that have government jobs, polishing the brass is a common term.) and still others where there is a combination of all.
One thing is for sure. If your employer expects you to operate like a robot and run all day to keep a place running day after day, year after year, its time to find a new employer. That's the type of environment where people will either get burned out physically and emotionally or, worse case get injured or killed. In either case, its not worth it. Find a new employer.
Another interesting dimension of this career is, you can transfer your tickets and/or steam time over to become a Marine Power Engineer. You could also study for and write your marine and power engineer exams simultaneously. This opens up the world of oceanic travel as an officer in the Merchant Marine. Some U.S. companies prefer Canadians on their ships because of the superior training they get. Canadian trained Marine Engineers are considered to be amoung the best of the bunch. Camosen College in Vancouver B.C. Canada is the place to be for that training. [More info like this in the institutions contact list section.]
Another way of doing this is to first get into the Marine end of things and be writing off exams simultaneously. This way you can be learning and earning while aboard ship and traveling the world. Food and accommodation is good and you can devote much of your spare time to educating yourself. Some guys go full boar at it and just take off a month or two every year until they get all their tickets earned as well as a swollen bank account. This way they have more options in life supplied by TWO POWERFUL careers and a solid bank account. This sort of approach really sets a guy up for the future, big time. Look at it like a university education. You work your butt off for four or five years, get great pay, get an education, maybe two educations, have everything paid for except your clothing perhaps and a few incidentals and come out on the other side with enough money to buy a beautiful house, a new car and still have money in the bank. From there on you may decide to do what ever you want, where ever you want. Remember you will have your education to fall back on, plus four or five years experience.
With a choice like that, why would any one want to go to university for four or five years to ge ta degree and come out on the other end with little or no experience and a world of debt?
Then again, if you are a land lover, like me, you may not choose the oceanic route and stay on dry land. These are just a few of the many different possibilities and combinations of ways one may involve themselves in one or both of these careers.
Although I have had job offers from The Middle East and other parts of North America, for now I'm staying put. I've found my neigh in Noth America. How about you? Have you found your neigh yet? Are you pleased as punch with your career? I wish you the best luck in your endeavors.
It may be time to move up in the world by becoming a POWER ENGINEER TECHNOLOGIST or STATIONARY ENGINEER.
Copyright 1990 to 2004 David C. Perry
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