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Process technology team wins national troubleshooting competition

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College Process Technology team claimed first place at the National Process Troubleshooting Competition held earlier this month at Kilgore College in Texas.

This is the second year in a row that the UAF team qualified for the national competition, earning second place last year.

“The PTSE National Competition really reflects the strength of our student’s entire education through the process technology degree program. We work to provide a top notch program, and the students are answering the challenge. I’m very proud of our CTC process technology students and their win in the PTSE national competition,” said Brian Ellingson, UAF process technology program coordinator. “Placing second last year and first this year shows how hard these students work on their studies, and how prepared they are for a great career in the process industries.”

The teams were well prepared for the competition, said Gayle Cannon, a competition judge from Phillips 66 in New Jersey. "It was a very tight competition in many of the exercises which didn’t make our job as judges easier."

Process technology troubleshooting is a key skill for technicians in industries such as petrochemical manufacturing, refining, oil and gas production, power generation, mining, pharmaceutical manufacturing and related fields.

"I believe that troubleshooting skills are at the top level of skills for process technicians," said Robert Hook, coach of the winning team. "I love the fact that the students get to come here on the national level and compete with other students from process technology programs."

This competition provides a forum for the students to work together as a team to showcase their troubleshooting skills at the national level. The teams participated in four rounds; three computer-based simulations and one paper-based. The troubleshooting problems are embedded in a simulated industrial process that could potentially be encountered on the job. The total scores are tallied to determine the winner.

Process technicians must be able to identify, diagnose and correct potential problems using a prescribed process to ensure equipment and processes run at optimum conditions while maintaining a safe work environment. A solid understanding of troubleshooting can improve safety/health/environment efforts, maintain product quality and positively affect facility economics.

The event is supported in part by grant funding from the National Science Foundation/Advanced Technological Education to the Process Troubleshooting Skills in Energy Consortium. This year’s competition was co-hosted by North American Process Technology Alliance members, Eastman Chemical Company and Kilgore College.

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