Recent History – 2002
June 14, 2002
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
South Peace Secondary School (SPSS) is not the only home to a partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
Since January, 17 students at Chetwynd Secondary — some adults — have been taking power engineering under the tutelage of Jon Carlson.
Power engineers operate boilers and steam plants at mills, gas plants and large complexes like hospitals. Although not the kind of high profile career that most people think of pursuing, Carlson said that the benefits can be rewarding.
“Above average wages, it’s not seasonal, there’s a shortage in Western Canada for the next 10 years of power engineers,” he said.
The program is open to Grade 11 students who take classes and practicum for 40 weeks starting in February. Once finished, they’ll have earned both Grade 12 and a fourth class certificate.
“And they’re doing it from home so the parents don’t have to send them off to college to take their power engineering program,” Carlson said. “It’s really unique.”
First class is the highest certificate that can be earned in power engineering and fifth class is the lowest.
“With first class you can operate any steam plant anywhere in the world,” Carlson said. “Canadian engineers are recognized anywhere because they’re so highly trained.”
Power engineers must have an ability with mechanical applications and good math skills, with calculus coming into play at the first and second class levels.
Fourth class gives them a good start said Carlson. “And even if they don’t use their certification, they’re hirable because they have related skills through the training,” he said.
This year, all the students are from Chetwynd, but starting next January, students from Dawson Creek will have an opportunity to participate. They’ll be bused to and from on a daily basis, much like students from Chetwynd do when they take either of the automotive programs at SPSS.
Carlson, who taught power engineering for nine years at the Fairview College in Peace River, enjoys his job.
“It’s a winning combination,” he said. “The guinea pig instructor, the guinea pig class and it’s working out just excellent, getting some kids in there that are kids and they’re maturing rapidly.
“A mixture of adult students and the younger students is the ideal combination for our type of program.”