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New Control Room Simulator opens

John Pierce, center, chair of the Energy Generation Operations program, explains how the simulator works to Jim Garver, secretary of the SCC Board of Governors, left, and Dr. Paul Illich, SCC president.
John Pierce, chair of SCC's Energy Generation Operations program, shows visitors how the Control Room Simulator works during a reception for the new facility on May 17.

Southeast Community College prides itself in providing high-level training to students in more than 50 programs. One of those programs is Energy Generation Operations.

The program, which began five years ago and is located on SCC’s Milford Campus, now boasts some of the best training equipment in the industry. John Pierce, program chair, said the new Control Room Simulator “is the only one of its kind at any college in the country. Our simulator replicates the control room of a power plant, including realistic time delays and equipment responses to prepare our students for real-life experiences.”

A reception commemorating the completion of the simulator was held May 17. The training equipment is located in Room 178 of the Eicher Technical Center.

The simulator, built by SimGenics of Colorado, is worth approximately $250,000 but was sold to SCC for a fraction of the cost in order to give students the best possible learning experience. SCC’s Opportunity Grant added additional funds to equip the room so that it could serve as a classroom.

The system includes 3DPact, a product with the latest 3D virtual reality software, enabling students to have realistic power plant experiences. When operating in the virtual power plant, students can actually change conditions that will respond in the control room and the VR-simulated power plant in real time.

“We try to replicate the control room as close as we can,” Pierce said. “It’s such a powerful teaching tool. I put second-quarter students in here, and after two hours they come out and speak the lingo.”

The 3DPact computer is in a room physically separated from the control room so that students must interact directly through the simulation equipment, or with two-way radios and/or intercoms. 

“We can simulate virtually any abnormal or emergency condition that can occur at two types of power plants, Combined Cycle (jet engine) powered and coal-fired electric generating power plants,” Pierce said. “We can also simulate startup and shutdown under controlled conditions and have the complete procedures for both types of plants to do this.”

Pierce said the simulator could benefit employees of power plants in southeast Nebraska such as LES and NPPD, as they do not have a training facility like this and are considering using it to train their employees.

The goal of the simulator is to prepare students for real-life experiences in a control room at two different types of power plants currently operating in North America, including several in SCC’s region.

Persons interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to go online at www.southeast.edu/EnergyGenerationOperations, or contact Pierce at 402-761-8394 or jpierce@southeast.edu. The six-quarter program offers focus areas in Industrial Process Operations, Military and Nuclear.


For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher Haggar
Marketing Specialist