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Building a Pipeline of Qualified Applicants

Winter 2011 | Archives

The Process Operations/Power Plant Technology program offered at MCC's Washington County Technology Center prepares students for entry-level employment and advancement opportunities as technical professionals in process plants and power plants.

PROT student Graduates will be trained to operate and maintain bio-refineries, power plants, wastewater treatment plants and other industries utilizing the process operations skill set," said Bill Owen, MCC's associate vice president for academic affairs. "Nebraska has a shortage of people with the background and training for such jobs," said Owen.

Graduates of the two-year program receive an Associate of Applied Science in Process Operations Technology degree. Since the Center opened in March 2011, curriculum has grown to include the power plant option and the nuclear power plant non-licensed operator option. The bio-processing curriculum is in development. In addition to offering an associate degree, the Center also offers a Specialist Diploma in Stationary Engineering. Currently, 16 students are engaged in coursework at the Center.

The program "allows us to build a pipeline of qualified applicants" for positions at the Cargill biorefinery campus in Blair, said Gavin Atkinson, Cargill's facilities manager. Atkinson said graduates have the "right education, right training and right mindset" to meet the qualifications for the biotech businesses' own training programs for technical production jobs. Cargill, Evonik, NatureWorks, Novozymes and OPPD are program industry partners.

PROT training equipment Bob Boyer is the lead full-time faculty member for the program. He has more than 20 years experience working as an adjunct professor in the area and in power plant operations.

The Washington County Technology Center is a collaborative project between MCC, Gateway Development Corporation, Blair industry partners, the city of Blair and Washington County.


Working in the process operations technology education and employment field requires:

  • Strong math and science skills
  • The willingness to work odd hours and varied shifts
Most entry-level employees can earn $50,000 or more their first year. This is one of the highest starting wages of the high-tech industries in the nation.

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