Kraton Polymers & More

Customized Training at Washington Co. Career Center

The Washington County Career Center has been building an outdoor facility that simulates what it is like to work in a chemical plant.

The facility helps train chemical operators, industrial maintenance mechanics, and instrumentation and electricity students. It has taken more than three years to build.

John Moore, industrial programs coordinator, said the idea behind the outdoor facility started almost four years ago. He said the advisory committee asked if there was something we could do to get students outside in the elements and working on actual equipment in a real-world scenario.

“And our answer back to them was, absolutely, if you help us with equipment, we will build it,” he said.

Moore said the facility is operational and is getting used, but the next step is to fully automate the facility. He said it is manually operated at this time.

“So you have to go out and set every valve and start everything manually. We are going to automate it next,” he said. “That is where automatic controls on there, where you will sit at a control station and actually control it from a computer-driven type platform.”

Curt Copen, industrial and customized training manager, said next phase will be a control room. He said it will make the facility and indoor-outdoor operation, similar to an actual chemical plant. He said this will give the instrumentation and electricity students a greater opportunity to do practical hands-on work.

Copen said chemical technicians and chemical operators can use the equipment to talk through fluid dynamics and look at flow paths. He said the industrial maintenance students also use the facility for pipefitting; to learn how to break bolts, install blanks and blind flanges and how to isolate and secure equipment. He also talked about how the welding program students have received experience by building the facility.

“Somebody has to put it together, and it has all come from our welding students. The students have done all the work from pipe fabrication to pipe stands.

Tony Huffman, superintendent, said local chemical plant employers are utilizing the outdoor facility for training. Kraton Polymers recently had 20 new chemical operators on the campus for a two-day, new-hire training.

Story courtesy of the Marietta Times, James Dobbs