'On top of it'

KPC students battle at national process technology competition

Kenai Peninsula College sent a team from the Kenai River Campus process technology program to the second annual National Troubleshooting Simulator Competition hosted by Kilgore College in Texas, Saturday, where a fine line separated the winning teams.

“It got down to the point of, well, who did the most perfect correction,” said Jeff Laube, assistant professor of process technology at KRC and team coach. “Many of the students in this competition did better than the standard in how they responded, so then they (the judges) had to get super picky on how they graded everyone.”

The judges only announced the top three winners.

Laude said his team of process technician students, Robert Forstner, William Christianson and Travis LeMay, are pretty certain they ranked fourth.

Eight colleges each sent three-person teams to the national competition. The colleges were chosen based on scores on a paper test. KRC was one of three teams from Alaska that traveled to Texas to compete in the finals. The other two teams were KPC’s Anchorage Extension Site and University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College. Fairbanks won first place.

The competition was held in a room where the teams faced computer-run model simulators that acted like real processes in a facility. The screens displayed pictures and symbols along with constantly changing numbers representing components of the plant. The teams had to monitor the displays and diagnose and solve each exercise within the 45-minute time limit. The stimulations were based on problems that a process technician might actually face like issues with boilers and distillation unit compressors.

“We were on top of it,” he said. “There was nothing that was thrown to us that seemed confusing or we couldn’t understand or control.”

The team not only had an enjoyable learning experience, but they also got to meet people from sponsoring companies such as Eastman Chemical Company, which treated the students to a tour of its 600-acre facility.

“It was an excellent experience for the students,” Laube said.

All three students graduated this spring from KRC. Christianson and LeMay have job offers with BP and ExxonMobil, Laude said.

Forstner said the experience has made him more confident in his employment pursuit and he thinks that being one of the 24 students in the nation having competed at the finals will make him stand out to employers.


Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.


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