April 29, 2019

It took the theory and made it real

It took the theory and made it real

DLC students tour Power Engineering Lab at Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Second year DLC Power Engineering students listen to Les Gulka (left) Program Head for Power Engineering at Saskatchewan Polytechnic and DLC Power Engineering Instructor Jim Noseworthy (right) during a tour of the Power Engineering Lab at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Saskatoon.

On April 10, seven students in their second year of the Sun West Distance Learning Centre (DLC) 4th Class Power Engineering program toured the Power Engineering Labs at the Saskatoon campus of Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Power engineers are certified professionals who are essential to keeping power plants running in hospitals, pulp mills, oil upgraders, refineries, manufacturing plants and countless other operations.Power engineers are often individuals with a strong mechanical aptitude who enjoy math and science.

Power engineering is a promising career path because it is one of the most in-demand professions in Canada. Currently approximately 30,000 power engineers are employed in Canada but at current retirement rates, it is expected there will be as many as 11,000 vacancies in the next 5-10 years and only about 8,000 new power engineers to fill those positions.

To help meet the increasing demand for power engineers, Saskatchewan Polytechnic entered into partnership with the DLC to develop an online 4th Class Power Engineering certification program, which the DLC began offering five years ago.

The DLC program consists of four online courses usually taken over two years as well as a number of hands-on labs offered on weekends. Students are required to get a minimum of 65% on two industry prescribed exams and complete a three week intensive hands-on lab training called steam time in July at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Students who successfully complete the program can be certified as 4th Class Power Engineers and will be job-ready right out of high school.

The tour of the Power Engineering lab allowed the students to see the kinds of machinery they would work on as power engineers including water tube and fire tube boilers, various kinds of pumps and steam turbines. It also gave them the chance to see where they would take steam time training in July.

Jim Noseworthy, the DLC Power Engineering instructor, who has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, organized the tour. He took the students through the lab and helped them connect what they learned in their online classes to the machinery. Sam Toth, a student from Eston commented: “It [the tour] took the theory and made it real.”

The DLC students also had the opportunity to sit in on a Saskatchewan Polytechnic Power Engineering class and get a taste of the kind of expectations they will need to meet in their careers as power engineers.

Les Gulka, the Program Head for Power Engineering with Saskatchewan Polytechnic took the time to meet with the DLC students and let them know what to expect during steam time. He told them: “Believe in yourself - you need to understand how they [the machines] work - it’s not about memorization - it’s about understanding.”

Referring to what students will be expected to learn, he added: “It’s all simple and easy - there is just lots of it.”

While encouraging the students, Les still let them know that steam time would be a challenge. “You by yourself will be running the whole plant” and that means the students should “be prepared for three weeks of full days.” “When you are done - you will know how everything in there [the lab] is done. You will be amazed how much you know when you come out.”

“It turns you into a problem solver!” He explained.

Les also emphasized how valuable the DLC power engineering program is in preparing students for certification requirements including steam time; which is a major reason that Saskatchewan Polytechnic partnered with the DLC: “We want to continue this kind of partnership,” he said.

Participants in the Saskatchewan Polytechnic tour (back: left to right) Jim Noseworthy (DLC instructor) Sam Toth (Eston), Dixon Hrycak (Kindersley), John Robson (Rosetown), Theoron de Connick-Smith (Rosetown), Tyler Englot (Rosetown) (front: left to right) Ivan Louise-Cueto (Biggar) and Brandan Horn (Rosetown).