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First Energy Generation Operations class graduates from SCC

Thirteen students became the first graduates of Southeast Community College's Energy Generation Operations program Friday night.

The students began the program on SCC's Milford Campus in January 2011. John Pierce, program chair, said the graduates took advantage of the diverse curriculum, which is designed to train for several types of energy generation systems operations.

"These graduates will be operators in nuclear plants, ethanol plants, coal-powered power plants, gas turbine power plants, and fertilizer manufacturing facilities; become wind turbine technicians and water and wastewater treatment operators," said Pierce, one of SCC's chief organizers of the program. "We have received notice of 81 job openings since the first of this year in which these graduates qualify, and those are just the ones we know about. Most companies probably don't even know about our new program yet."

Program graduates: Alex Todd Block, Henderson; Kim Lynette Briggs, Red Oak, Iowa; Sean W. Cicmanec, Gordon; Marcus Henry Forsgren, Sprague, Alexander Dean Gartin, Omaha; Vicki Marie Lintt, Seward; Tyler D. Long, Louisville; Christopher William Ludden, Columbus; Stephen Patrick Riegel, Lincoln; Kirk Bradley Rose, Aurora; Travis Jeffery Schoeneck, Fremont; Tyler Lee Valentine, Glenvil; and James Connor Yeager, Martell.

SCC collaborated with numerous energy agencies to develop the curriculum. Pierce said the students received a wealth of information during the short program.

"They receive a broad base of core curriculum that is needed by operators in a variety of industries, primarily the utility industry," Pierce said. "But other processing-type industries are now calling on us to recruit from our ranks. The core curriculum is rich in breadth as well as the appropriate amount of depth for operators."

After the first five quarters of core curriculum, each student chooses one of four focuses for their sixth and final quarter. The four choices are biofuels, fossil fuels, nuclear or wind.

Other industries that have called Pierce inquiring about graduates include water and wastewater treatment plants, fertilizer manufacturing, pulp and paper mills, refineries, breweries, food and pharmaceutical manufacturing and processing, pipeline operators and others.

"We have seen job openings for energy management positions in colleges and municipal plants, operator technicians for places as far away as Hawaii, systems analysts, technical support engineers, management trainees, utility superintendents, load control gas operators for gas pipeline companies, a maintenance operator, operator/mechanic, a geothermal power plant operator in Reno, Nev., and others," Pierce said.

Earlier this year a new wind turbine was installed on the Milford Campus. Pierce said additional equipment to aid the students also was purchased or donated by energy partners.

"We have purchased a used boiler and a spectrometer from NPPD (Nebraska Public Power District) to be used in various lab settings," he said. "We also have added numerous pieces of hardware that have been donated by LES (Lincoln Electric System) and NPPD for hands-on activities in the classroom and labs."

Pierce praised state and local agencies for their support of the program.

"Without the overwhelming support of our industry partners, including NPPD, LES, OPPD (Omaha Public Power District), the Nebraska Ethanol Board and various ethanol producers, the initial astounding success of this program would not have been possible," Pierce said.

A celebration dinner was held in the Dunlap Center on SCC's Milford Campus prior to graduation to honor all those who have contributed to the development and roll-out of the program. The first group of students and their families, advisors, staff, and others were recognized and honored.

Persons interested in enrolling in the Energy Generation Operations program are asked to contact Pierce at 402-761-8394 or jpierce@southeast.edu.

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu