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Front Page » August 26, 2008 » Carbon County News » WETC delivering with innovation, energy super tour
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WETC delivering with innovation, energy super tour

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Sun Advocate community editor

The Western Energy Training Center continues to move forward by employing revolutionary techniques in energy education.

"Our power plant simulator is now mobile," said program director Robert Litster. "If anything our capabilities have increased and we are ready to move forward with our original mission of industry driven training."

Showcased for Gov. Jon Huntsman when he toured the facility earlier in the year, the simulator has the ability to aid in training an aging power generation workforce who could have issues with mass retirement in the next five to 10 years.

Earlier in the year, several core staff members left the College of Eastern Utah training facility, including curriculum director Robert Topping and center director Steve Burge.

According to Litster, the facility has trained over 14,000 individuals since opening on June 30, 2008. Most recently officials at the site conducted both their annual "Safety Fest" and "Think Energy Super Tour."

During the energy tour, a composite of kindergarten through 12th grade educators toured strategic energy producing resource facilities in the state.

According to the WETC program director, the tour focused on several energy rich areas where as many as 60 teachers from all walks of the educational spectrum attended visual demonstrations of all the state has to offer for their students vocational future.

Stops along the tour included:

A geothermal energy focus at the Blundell Power Plant.

A focus on methane generated electricity at the Salt Lake City Landfill.

Nuclear energy at Energy Solutions Inc.

Oil drilling at Wolverine Oil at Salina.

Mining at Arch Western's Skyline mine.

Power generation at Intermountain Power's Delta plant.

Power distribution at Intermountain Electronics.

Clean coke manufacturing at Terra Systems located at the WETC facilities.

New wind powered generation at the Edison Mission Energy facility in Spanish Fork.

And energy transportation at Savage Services.

"What the tour boils down to is demonstrating for these educators all the potential that is out there for their students in the energy field," said Litster. "We plan to develop a universal sense of energy literacy in Utah. The hope is after seeing the variety of energy-producing methods and wide range of techniques used, the educators will take what they have learned and find ways to implement this new comprehensive information into their instructional activities."

The tour was offered to all educators. Participants included three elementary, four middle school, 17 junior high, 15 high school, two administrative and one college level instructor.

The participants represented school districts from Carbon County, Alpine, two from Idaho; Davis; Emery; Granite; Jordan; San Juan; Juab; Morgan; Provo; Salt Lake; Tooele and a Michigan school.

The visiting instructors indicated that they were excited to get back to their students after the tour.

According to WETC, the examples of the participants' comments included:

•"I gained a tremendous knowledge and appreciation of the energy resources we have in the state."

•"I want to thank the WETC for an exceptional educational experience. The trip was a huge success. I am a better educator and a better audiologist because of the knowledge I gained from this course," according to WETC materials.

As coal prices continue to rise and the local coal market continues to expand a local training facility such as the WETC is invaluable, reported Litster.

"We have began working with the department of workforce services," said the WETC program director. "We will do what we have to in order to get people interested in training, we are hoping to use DWS facilities to put on training right there in their boardrooms."

While the energy tour was used to show educators what can be provided for their students, Litster also noted that local youth should know on their own what is available for their own futures.

"We are not talking about grunt work jobs here," concluded Litster. "There are jobs in the business office for accounting and on site for engineers not to mention all types of operation's opportunities as mines, power plants and gas wells continue to become more technical in nature. There is so much opportunity for a small amount of training to turn itself into a great career for anyone who is interested."

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