Gas, Nuclear

Letters

Issue 8 and Volume 110.

Editor’s note: In June, Power Engineering announced an initiative to take a leadership role in issues related to workforce development, retention and replacement. That announcement led to a flood of emails and phone calls from readers, some asking how they could help, others expressing skepticism at the premise. A few of the responses are reprinted here.

Dear Power Engineering:

Please stop with these articles about the pending disaster because of the aging workforce and how are we going to replace them (June 2006 Power Engineering). I’ve only been in this industry for a couple of years but before that I was an airline mechanic for 20 years. When I first became an airline mechanic all the talk was about how the WWII guys were going to retire at once and there won’t be enough trained people to keep the airplanes flying. It never happened. Not even close. The only upcoming problem for these companies, just like the airlines, is how are they going to pay the pensions of these people when they do retire. Finding replacements will not be a problem especially with the move towards more and more automation and computerization. The lights will not go out because some old man retires just like the airplanes did not fall from the sky when the WWII guys started dying and retiring. Get over yourself. The people in this industry think they are indispensable; everyone is replaceable.

John Crifasi
Staten Island, NY

Dear Power Engineering:

I read through your article in the June 2006 edition of Power Engineering. I can certainly see what is happening in our industry.

Myself, I am striving to get an engineering degree in Electrical Engineering. I am currently working on my AA in Engineering. I will go on to a university for the BS. I have found that almost all of my classes needed for a BSEE are for daytime only. This is a real damper for me since I am already working full time as a Power Plant Operator/Technician in a gas fired plant.

I like the idea of a scholarship to a new student for the power engineering-related field. However, can there be a scholarship for someone like myself who already has a strong power industry background and is striving to become an engineer? Can something be done to elevate the blue collar workers to white collar workers, or at least relieve the stress they must endure to achieve? It seems I have to work five times as hard to attain a degree than a person fresh out of high school.

I learned to operate and maintain power plants while in the US Army. There is a unit there with plenty of personnel ready to get out for a good paying job. This unit is called the 249th Engineer Battalion. They are headquartered in Fort Belvoir, VA. They are trained as instrumentation technicians, electricians, and mechanics. Their website is http://249en.belvoir.army.mil/default.htm.

Larry Waller
Future Engineer

Dear Power Engineering:

While looking for replacement help, let us keep in mind the resources available overseas.

The United States and India are partnering in the field of nuclear energy. Young people educated in Indian universities would be a viable resource to augment work-force in the U.S.

Vishwa M. Bhargava, PE, MEM, Human Performance Department Coordinator Corporate Nuclear Engineering
Dominion Resources Services, Inc.
Glen Allen, VA

Dear Power Engineering:

I am senior faculty (professor) at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Mechanical Engineering Technology unit. In past years many of our graduates have gone on to positions in the electric utility industry at locations all across the country.

We are trying to develop an energy specialty within our department. Any information you can feed us on future manpower requirements in the power industry both on the generation side and on the equipment manufacturer side would be appreciated. We need this sort of information to justify to the administration the need for the program and the resources to provide it.

Ronald Amberger, PE, Professor
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York