Engineering the world to safety

PTEC program ready to train new engineers

Ray Kopf, Staff Writer

In-person classes have been slowly increasing at Los Medanos College and many programs are now able to resume regular activities. This is especially true for those with more of a “hands-on” approach, such as the Process Technology program.

PTEC trains future chemical, mechanical, and powerplant technicians to excel in the workforce, teaching them the tools they need to thrive in their profession. Alongside all of the math and scientific components of the program, students get real insight into what working in these plants will be like. From operating actual systems they will encounter, to taking tours of the plants they could potentially work at in the future, the program encompasses every aspect of the profession and hammers in the point that safety is key.

On top of all of this, the program includes professors who have worked in the field for years. William Cruz, who has been teaching in the PTEC program since its inception in 2008, highlighted the importance of these jobs.

“It’s a very necessary thing for the country to run these plants,” said Cruz.

Not only are these jobs necessary, they are well paying. Professor Michael Kean, who has been teaching in PTEC for five years, touched on how quickly you can make money. 

“You can earn as much as $100,000 a year after just three terms,” said Kean. 

The program is also limited in quantity. There are only about 44 PTEC programs across the country and LMC hosts one of them. 

“We are the only PTEC program in Northern California,” said Cruz. 

With such a limited and specialized program, students like Sandeep Thind feel lucky to have, “A good program and a good opportunity at our local college,”

It is true that the work in the program is not the easiest and Cruz will be the first to tell you that, but the professors are good at taking complex formulas and simplifying them in real-world terms. For example, they explain convection and conduction by using a Thanksgiving turkey as an example in place of a tank. They do this with many topics you would cover in the field, such as decreasing pressure in a tank or controlling the flow of liquids into tanks.

The courses cover many different aspects of science and math while also teaching you how to operate the same machinery you’ll end up seeing on the job site. From energy transfer to opening and closing valves, the professors will teach you how to safely operate and run a plant.

“They definitely know what they’re doing,” Thind said about his professors. “You can tell they’ve been in the field.”

With such well-trained instructors, students are given the tools for success and are put in a good position after graduating. The certificates students earn in this course are looked at highly by many of the local companies, such as Calpine in Pittsburg and Bayworks, that might hire them. In fact, many students can get internships while still in the program. 

“Pretty much any of our students that graduate can get a job as a manufacturing technician if they want it,” said Kean.

This is especially true today as LMC is reopening more than 20 internship programs with local refineries, including Calpine and Bayworks, and companies that PTEC students and graduates can jump into. 

For those who are eager to work on an active jobsite and avoid a desk job, Cruz said PTEC is a great program to try out. It takes teamwork and critical thinking. 

“We are happy to accept new students into the program. It is open to all,” said Kean.

If you want more information about the PTEC program, you can contact William Cruz at [email protected] or Michael Kean at [email protected].