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 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
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
"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
"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,"
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