Coal, Gas

Scouting Tales – Take 1

Issue 7 and Volume 104.

I read your opinion in the May 2000 issue of Power Engineering magazine. I am not sure where you got your information concerning Scouting and electricity, but you are wrong. I have been active in Scouting as an adult leader for over three years now and I am also a registered Professional Engineer in the state of New Jersey working for a large public utility. I am also a Merit Badge Counselor. Other leaders in our troop (Troop 48, Berlin, N.J.) are reputable doctors and experienced lawyers.

A Merit Badge Counselor helps a Boy Scout explore and learn about a particular subject that interests him. A counselor’s goal is to teach the scout how to find and evaluate information himself, rather than rely on a “teacher.” Which is why we call ourselves counselors, not teachers. I counsel electricity and railroading and friends of mine handle nuclear power and energy. We recently succeeded in teaching scouts to connect a computer to a model train set and worked on a program to control the train. They learned first-hand about 120 Vac,

My associates and I work over 250 hours a year guiding the youth of today to a future of respect by ensuring they remain mentally awake. To find an opinion like yours in a trade journal, which I have referenced in the past, was disappointing.

Please, drop me a line if you would like to see any of this counseling in action. We work on an individual basis with scouts and sometimes utilize a county college for classroom instructions. This is usually done during the winter when camping becomes too risky and we have a large number of scouts (90-100) to accommodate. Also, remember that this takes place in addition to a scout’s usual duty, attending school. These scouts are working above and beyond the typical student to enlighten themselves.

Also, a Merit Badge Counselor does not need to be a member of a Boy Scout Troop, which means that you too can participate in this challenging environment.

Dennis Schiller, P.E.
Atco, NJ

Mr. Shiller – I regret that you read my opinion piece and got the impression that it was a negative attack against Scouting. That was certainly not the intention. I realize the majority of Scout Troops, and the individuals that counsel these Troops, devote a lot of time and effort toward making Scouting an educational, rewarding experience. The point I was making in the opinion was that a few uninformed people can have a lasting impact on our youth, and, as representatives of the power industry, we need to make the effort to accurately educate our youth so they don’t make rash judgements. You are obviously doing your part, and I commend you for that. – BKS

Scouting Tales – Take 2

I thought the “Opinion” piece in the May Power Engineering was one excellent piece of work – probably because it mirrored so many of my own thoughts. I thought it was very well written and certainly timely.

I had a very similar experience to the one that you mentioned. Mine happened to be with the local 4-H club, but the message was the same: stop polluting the air and require every house to have photovoltaic panels and a windmill! Remember that it’s not such a stretch for a kid to imagine in this part of the country, where many families use a windmill to pump water to their houses and barns (the Amish). I explained to my daughter that we could do that – if we all just gave up the comforts provided by electricity!

Todd Sommer
Orrville, Ohio

Scouting Tales – Take 3

I found your editorial interesting. A couple of years ago, I brought my Boy Scout Troop to tour GE’s Fitchburg (Mass.) Steam Turbine Plant (where I worked as a production engineer). We try to take the boys around to see different career possibilities a couple of times a year – this was a bit different than the usual fire station and police HQ tours.

It was during a troop meeting, so we came through on the second shift. We showed them how the machinery that powered entire cities (and their Nintendo’s and computers) and drove aircraft carriers were made. They were impressed by the huge machinery and 100-ton cranes.

Making turbines was challenging, hard work, but the craftsmanship, engineering excellence and teamwork of the Fitchburg GE Steam Turbine Plant were unequalled. It was kind of a family atmosphere – work together, fight and argue together, create wonderful, high-quality machinery together. It had to be done right and on-time, and it was.

Three months after the Scout tour, GE announced they were closing the plant, which employed 600 people. The scouts knew just what the stories in the paper were about – they had just been there! So much for growing up and working there. It looks like the NAFTA-Shafta eliminated that career track.

What’s left to do in America? Will the smart kids all wear their baseball hats backwards and become Web Site designers?

Art O’Leary
Scoutmaster/Engineer

Power Engineering welcomes letters expressing the beliefs and opinions of readers on all aspects of electricity generation and the electric power industry in the United States. To be considered for publication, letters must identify the author and contain a return address to allow the editorial staff to verify their origin. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Letters are accepted by mail, fax or e-mail. Just contact Power Engineering at 1421 S. Sheridan Road, Tulsa, OK 74112; (918) 831-9834, fax; or [email protected], e-mail.