Campus & Community

Reedy Creek donates equipment to train PBSC students

Marlin Vaughn, cogeneration plant operator at Reedy Creek Improvement District, and Paul Slater, former PBSC labs specialist, help set up the continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS).

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxing district that supports Walt Disney World, has donated used equipment to the Palm Beach State College Electrical Power Technology Program to help prepare students for today’s workforce.

Marlin Vaughn, cogeneration plant operator at Reedy Creek, arranged the donation of the continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS), valued at $100,000, through his involvement as a member and immediate past chair of the Florida Energy Workforce Consortium. PBSC is a longstanding education partner with the nonprofit group, which works to ensure a sustainable workforce to support Florida’s energy needs.

Vaughn said industry leaders found that students around the state were graduating without formal training on some of the equipment currently used at power plants and other areas of the industry. They wanted to better align energy curricula at state colleges with the industry to help close the skills gap.

“Students were coming out of school, and we’d totally have to retrain them,’’ Vaughn said. “My main goal was to get industry to donate equipment that these young people would be working on when they get to the industry.”

The continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) protects the environment from pollutants. If pollution levels rise above Environmental Protection Agency standards at power plants and other facilities, the CEMS sets off an alarm that is monitored by a third-party entity. When Reedy Creek purchased a new CEMS, Vaughn requested that the older equipment be donated to PBSC.

“It just enhances an already amazing program,’’ Vaughn said. “I’ve toured programs all over the state, and this is one of the best programs in the state as far as instrumentation and control.”

The Electrical Power Technology Program is a two-year Associate in Science degree, which prepares students for careers in power, aerospace, and automation industries. Since it was established 13 years ago on the Palm Beach Gardens campus, the College has worked closely with the industry.

Professor Oleg Andric, Electrical Power Technology department chair, said he appreciates the equipment donation.

“This is one additional example of industry and educational institutions working together to ensure that students in the workforce program, in this case Electrical Power Technology Program, end up out of college with a degree but also with the skills that the industry is looking for,’’ he said. “I also think it is a testament to the types of relationships and types of reaction that Palm Beach State College have developed to the industry needs. The industry helps us identify skills gaps and adapt to bridge those gaps and make sure our students end up with the best combination of skills.”

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