Manufacturing with Muscle

Joe Stadel calls himself a rookie, but this faculty member and Power Engineer Second Class has the calluses to show that he’s anything but a newbie. Succeeding in this profession takes many training courses, experience in a cross-section of trades, and passing the government boiler bench exam.

"If I was 30, I wouldn't be prepared to teach about power engineering," he admits. But add a decade of working in applied mechanics, operations, management, and chief engineering and, Joe concludes, "It’s the best job I ever had."

Before coming to BCIT, Joe’s specialty was "being a generalist" — he "did everything from hosing down pulp to negotiating contracts." Now he teaches trades-based training to a mature student body. His distance-education courses are taught to power engineering students in Fort McMurray, Alta., where the oil reserves industry draws all classes of power engineers.

"Power engineering is more than turning on a generator — we prevent pressure vessels from blowing up," he says. And a trend toward making power tools lighter makes this trade a practical choice for the four women who enrolled.

Currently, demand outpaces supply for Fourth Class and Third Class Power Engineers — the entry levels. Joe tells his students to concentrate on doing the core work, prevention and maintenance. "I try to teach students the practical issues — I'm the 'reality' guy."

So as the industry recognizes a skills shortage, students like Joe's will be job-ready to replace retiring baby boomers. "There's no better time to become a power engineer."

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