Power Engineering Placement Coordinator Dave Belanger says power engineering involves the manipulation of heat to create energy. "For example, we use heat from a boiler to transform water into steam, which can be used to turn a turbine, which in turn drives a generator and results in producing electricity," says Belanger.
Steam can also be used in various process systems in a number of different industries, including food and beverage, petroleum and chemical, he added.
"We also work in large buildings, such as hospitals, where we operate boilers and chillers to help condition the air and in some cases, generate electricity to sustain the building," says Belanger.
Working as a power engineering technologist involves monitoring, adjusting, analyzing and solving problems with power boilers, gas and steam turbines, compressors, refrigeration chillers, pumps and other related equipment. The equipment size ranges from very small to being several stories tall.
St. Clair College offers a fast-track Power Engineering program, with the three-year Ontario College Advanced Diploma delivered in less than two years.
"We are accredited by TSSA which allows us to provide 'steam time' reduction," says Belanger. "The student will receive a nine-month time reduction, meaning they will need only three months of 'steam time' rather than 12 months in order to qualify to apply for their 4th class certification and an 11 month time reduction rather than 12 months in order to qualify to apply for their 3rd class certification from TSSA."
The Power Engineering Technology – Mechanical program provides content geared to help students pass the exams for certification as a Fourth Class and Third Class Power Engineer.
Upon graduation, Belanger says the Power Engineering program provides you the theoretical and practical skills required to operate and maintain energy systems in a variety of settings, including power plants, hospitals, commercial and large residential buildings, schools, chemical plants, refineries, steel mills, saw mills and more.
You need good math and physics skills to complete this program successfully, and a good work ethic to work in the field, says Belanger. But if you land a career in this field, the payoff is significant.
"This is one of a few programs in any institution where a graduate has a decent chance of making $150,000 a year within six years of graduating," says Belanger.
Overall, Belanger says enrolling in the Power Engineering program means "good job prospects, a great career and chance to earn a very good living."