Although it began just 19 months ago, the Energy Generation Operations program at Southeast
Community College is experiencing early success and praise.
Photo cutline: Front row, from left:
Gary Thompson, NPPD Board member; John Pierce, chair of SCC's
Energy Generation Operations program; and Glenn Pasho, dean of
SCC's Construction & Electronics and Communications &
Information Technology divisions. Back row, from left: Dr. Dennis
Headrick, vice president for instruction at SCC; Carl Lewis, NPPD
trainer and adjunct instructor for SCC; and Chad Johnson, NPPD
education specialist and SCC course developer.
The Nebraska Public Power District, at the Aug. 10 meeting of
its board of directors in Columbus, adopted a resolution commending
SCC for its leadership in developing the program and graduating its
NPPD Board Member Gary Thompson read the resolution:
"Whereas, there is a significant need for qualified workers in
the nuclear, coal, natural gas turbine and reciprocating engine,
ethanol and bio-diesel production, and wind generation industries
in the state of Nebraska; and
"Whereas, as a result of its commitment to Nebraska Public Power
District and the energy industry in Nebraska, Southeast Community
College has developed an energy systems training program in
partnership with NPPD and others in order to develop a conduit to
provide skilled energy systems workers to the energy industry;
"Whereas, as a result of that collaborative effort, Southeast
Community College conferred on June 8, 2012, an Associate of
Applied Science degree to the first 13 students who participated in
the 18-month Energy Generation Operations program.
"Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of
Nebraska Public Power District, a political subdivision of the
state of Nebraska, on behalf of its employees and the people of
Nebraska whom it serves, hereby confers upon Southeast Community
College its commendation for superior performance; expresses
sincere appreciation for their leadership and vision that has led
to the development of this important program; and finally expresses
its sincere wish that Southeast Community College has continued
success in all of its future endeavors."
SCC representatives Dr. Dennis Headrick, vice president for
instruction; Glenn Pasho, dean of the Construction &
Electronics and Communications & Information Technology
divisions; and John Pierce, chair of the Energy Generation
Operations program, attended the meeting.
"NPPD and SCC have worked closely together for the past four
years developing the new Energy Generation Operations program on
the Milford Campus," Pierce said. "This program is training
operators for nuclear- and coal-powered power plants, wind turbine
technicians, ethanol plant operators, as well as additional
processing facilities, including fertilizer manufacturing,
refineries, food and pharmaceutical processing, pulp and paper
mills, and many other related industries."
SCC began the program in January 2011 and graduated its first
class in June 2012. Pierce said the majority of the 13 students who
graduated have secured employment in the field as operators. Pierce
said the average starting wage for the group is $25 per hour, with
the top wage being $32.68 per hour.
"The aging workforce and the resulting loss of experienced
operators prompted NPPD and other utilities to seek education
partners to develop focused programs of study to help fill the
pipelines with replacement operators," Pierce said.
SCC's program is unique in that it provides a broad base of core
curriculum in the first five quarters, followed by specialty
courses in various focuses during the final sixth quarter. Pierce
said no other college offers operator training this way.
"Most colleges that offer operations programs separate the
focuses completely," he said. "SCC's system provides many more
opportunities for our graduates by virtue of multiple focuses
coupled to the common curriculum. This design provides more
flexibility for the students, as well as long-term stability for
The program enrolls students in January and July. SCC's quarter
system allows students to complete the Associate of Applied Science
degree in 18 months.
Persons wanting more information about SCC's Energy Generation
Operations program are asked to contact Pierce at 402-761-8394 or