HOPE students hired to Energy Centre operation< More Stories
“Working for the college was appealing to me because it allowed me to have a source of income without having to worry about my employer misunderstanding my school schedule,” says Jenna Hnetka, one of two student operators and a second-year heavy oil power engineering (HOPE) student.
“There is also the opportunity to get hands-on experience. We have access to equipment that is running continuously, which is something that you don't see until you’re in the industry. It’s a realistic representation of what I can expect to work with when I pursue my career,” she explains.
Hnetka adds her favourite aspect of the job is troubleshooting. “It's you and the lab. If something goes wrong, you can take the time to think to yourself and work through it. I’m gaining confidence comfortably.”
Hnetka and Graham Ruzesky, the other student operator and second-year HOPE student, are tasked with ensuring all production rates are achieved and maintained; completing water analysis on boiler waters; assisting in rounds and routines associated with steam generators; and more.
Ruzesky adds this experience is an excellent opportunity to apply his theoretical studies on a practical basis. “When you're out in the field, you're not going to have an instructor or classmate over your shoulder who you can turn to for support. I’m building confidence in my abilities to troubleshoot and perform adjustments on the system.”
“You're the only one in the plant; you're in control of any situation that arises. However, our instructors are available to lean on if there is ever an issue that I need help with. They're there for support anytime.”
Rob Collins, instructor and chair for the energy department, explains students also attain soft skills to help them feel more confident in seeking employment. Collins and Tim Brochu, steam chief, provide students with feedback on their résumé and their interview skills.
Photos: Jenna Hnetka and Graham Ruzesky, second-year HOPE students, complete a variety of tasks as student operators during their weekend shifts at Lakeland's Energy Centre.