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What is the best training for becoming a hirable stationary engineer? What types of ongoing training or certifications are necessary to be an effective stationary engineer?

What do non-traditional career paths look like?

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Saul Algaba in Sacramento, California

79 months ago

You must have a CFC License. Some wont ask for it, but most will.
It a nice feather in your cap anyway.

Air conditioning and refrigeration, plus boiler fundamentals - coupled with electrical knowledge will take you far.

I personally enjoy plumbing also which is part of our job as well.

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Francis Lott in Butler, Pennsylvania

73 months ago

I would be very interested in a positions such as this , starting out , ut in Pittsburgh Pa
or Butler, Pa
Sincrely<
Francis Lott

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Mario in Modesto, California

65 months ago

Saul Algaba in Sacramento, California said: You must have a CFC License. Some wont ask for it, but most will.
It a nice feather in your cap anyway.

Air conditioning and refrigeration, plus boiler fundamentals - coupled with electrical knowledge will take you far.

I personally enjoy plumbing also which is part of our job as well.

Hey Saul,

Who do you work for? Can you get me in? I'm trying to get a stationary engineer job. Don't have much experience but I figure I shouldn't have any problem learning it. I'm taking building systems to familiarize myself with the trade. I've been an aircraft mechanic for 19 years and no longer in it. We have routine and non routine maintenance when things break down. I figure it's probably the same thing in stationary engineering. You have your daily routine checks and preventative maintenance and a few fixers here and there just like an aircraft mechanic for the major airlines. So can you help me get in there good buddy?

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

65 months ago

In a union shop it will not be learn as you go. To get a journeyman job you will need to be a journeyman.
Here are some of the ways that people I have worked with became journeymen. Union apprentice program. Graduate of a Maritime Academy program in engineering with at least a 3rds licience. Ex Navy BTs and MMs. In small shops after many years as a utility be promoted to journeyman, happens rarely. One guy I know was a Navy electriction, went to Sequia school, worked non union for a cell phone company for three years, then began looking for a stationary engineers job. Then there are some non union jobs where the pay is less take what you have and build on it, with experience you may be able to land a job.

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Mario in Modesto, California

65 months ago

Len,

Who do you work for? If I have my CFC license, electrical, hvac, and boiler training through local 39, will I have a great chance of getting in?

Thanks,

Mario

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

65 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: Len,

Who do you work for? If I have my CFC license, electrical, hvac, and boiler training through local 39, will I have a great chance of getting in?

Thanks,

Mario

ABM Engineering services. Great chance? It will depend on your experience. some places are having lay offs so I would imagine it will be tight now.

Check with the local about dispatch. Call dispatch weekly to see what jobs are open and where. Go on the web and check out ABM engineering or Able engineering services, I think they have job listings. Also you might be able to get the name of the account manager for you area. Try e-mailing them.

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Mario in Modesto, California

65 months ago

Yeah you're right it's tight everywhere right now. How long have you been a stationary engineer? Could you email me? I just want to get an idea what you guys do on a daily basis. My email is mdevera211@yahoo.com. Please provide me your phone #. Thx.

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

65 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: Yeah you're right it's tight everywhere right now. How long have you been a stationary engineer? Could you email me? I just want to get an idea what you guys do on a daily basis. My email is mdevera211@yahoo.com. Please provide me your phone #. Thx.

There is daily basis. In the high rise if it has a wire on it, except phones and computers, it is mine. If it had pipes to it is mine. If it turns it is mine, except elevators now. You need to understand electricity, pumps, AC all parts, sewage, boilers, turbines, steam, chemistry, anything mechanical, keys and locks, and much more. Some jobs will require different skills than other.
Alnog with keeping all the equipment running also answer customer service complaints. Each day is different.

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Mario in Modesto, California

65 months ago

Is this hard to learn? Did you knew all these already before you got in the job? Or did you learn most of it on the job?

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Len in San Jose in Fremont, California

64 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: Is this hard to learn? Did you knew all these already before you got in the job? Or did you learn most of it on the job?

When I got my first stationary job I already was a marine engineer. To get a job as a journeyman you need to know enough to work by yourself with little supervision within a week or less of starting any job. When working as an engineer you never stop learning. So I am still learning on the job. The job I have now I was given one day to learn the plant, my last job 2 days. If you do not know enough to walk in the door and start work most chiefs will not hire you. Apprentices learn on the job. Most crews are from 1 to 12 men, with alot around 4. Everyone has to be able to pull their own weight right from the start. Employeers are not going to pay $38.00+ an hour for someone that is learning the trade.

If you are trying to break into the trade and have mechanical skills. Take classes in HVAC, electricity, welding, computers, machinery, locks and keys, high rise fire safety.

YOu can start out non union at less pay to get experience. And after you have time on the job then start moving up.
Check in to the buildings in your are see if they are higering, check pruduction plants, check with any building that looks like it has machinery in it.

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

Len,

I bet you guys don't really handle major discrepancies, you guys let the outside specialist handle it. For example if there's an electrical mod or boiler steam piping reroute or other things that need to be overhauled, you guys get the outside vendors that specialized in those fields don't you? It seems like to get in this field you just need the understanding of electricity, hvac, plumbing, boilers but don't really do the major work other than making sure the daily operation of the building system goes smoothly by doing your routine maintenance. If things don't then you might go fix the minor stuff but leave the major things to the outside folks who specialize in each system. You might do your daily water chemistry check and treatment, boiler blowdown, valve check, lubing pumps, testing safety equipments, etc but other than that, you leave the major stuff to the outside vendor when things breakdown. Right?

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

64 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: Len,

I bet you guys don't really handle major discrepancies, you guys let the outside specialist handle it. For example if there's an electrical mod or boiler steam piping reroute or other things that need to be overhauled, you guys get the outside vendors that specialized in those fields don't you? It seems like to get in this field you just need the understanding of electricity, hvac, plumbing, boilers but don't really do the major work other than making sure the daily operation of the building system goes smoothly by doing your routine maintenance. If things don't then you might go fix the minor stuff but leave the major things to the outside folks who specialize in each system. You might do your daily water chemistry check and treatment, boiler blowdown, valve check, lubing pumps, testing safety equipments, etc but other than that, you leave the major stuff to the outside vendor when things breakdown. Right?

If all the important work gets done by outside contractors, then why would the owners keep me. Yes there is such a thing as a roledex engineer, and they drag the trade down.
I have bare boned many Trane sidewinders, Carrier 19DG, 12 and 16 cylinder chillers.
On escalators I have retracked several, rebuilt the gear boxes,replaced the geared drive train, replaced motors, rewired, changed hand rails and handrail track. On elevators changed the MG set, and the drive motors. repaired them.
Electrical, rebuilt panels, replaced transformers, and much more.

I have repiped more stuff than I can remember.

The employer needs to supply the tools to do all that work.

In the high rise I do not have all the tools. the things that get contracted.
Drain problems if I am allowed. the last chiller rebuild. When the MCC blew up because of liability we called in a contractor. don't have recovery equipment so tenant's server room AC units get contracted. And yes my boss does contract stuff thaat I want to do.

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

64 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: Len,
, you leave the major stuff to the outside vendor when things breakdown. Right?

the main point of my job is to keep things from breaking down. Keeping ahead. You need more than a basic understanding. If you are going to be any good you really need to know what is going on. Yesterday my fans were hunting badly and going from 2 to 4 fans and back to 2. It look like a programing error in the BMS. I had to look at what is going on look at my rounds sheet. Contol air pressure in the BMS cabinet was 15psi where normally it is 16 psi. from looking at that and know how my building should run I checked the dampers from the fans to the hot and cold deck. Found some open that should have been closed. I had 1 blown damper motor. My hot deck and cold deck fans were fighting each other. replaced damper building settled out. Some people would spend hours going over the BMS program make bad adjustment and never get it fixed. You have to truly understand the whole picture.

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

Len in San Jose in Oakland, California said: the main point of my job is to keep things from breaking down. Keeping ahead.

That's what I was trying to say. Most of you guys are really doing the routine maintenance and just babysitting the building. When things break down, most of you guys probably will panic. Sounds like you're pretty good at what you do but half of you are probably don't know how to troubleshoot when ___ hits the fan.

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

64 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: That's what I was trying to say. Most of you guys are really doing the routine maintenance and just babysitting the building. When things break down, most of you guys probably will panic. Sounds like you're pretty good at what you do but half of you are probably don't know how to troubleshoot when ___ hits the fan.

Not most. Some more than there should be. But not most and more than a few. Less than half but too many are not good at problem solving. The owners have to choose, pay the engineer to fix things right and keep the contractors out. Or hire handy men and pay contractors to repair properly what they break and can not. I get $38 an hour + bennies. There are "engineers" out there who will work for $15 to $30 an hour with little benifits. If I can not save the company over twice my wage in a years time I will be walking down the street talking to my self. The building I am in now for its first 35 had handymen called engineers. With new owners they brought in new engineers. The place was a mess. Ny joke about the place is what does it and the building code have in common? Nothing. You almost always get what you pay for. When I wanted a lawyer I got one who went to an good law firm, it cost me but I got my money's worth.

As you may tell I am proud of my profession, and think we do a important job. And have no use for panic mode "engineers".

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

Hey Len,

Get me in there and I'll show you what I can do even without an experience. Just kidding buddy, it's not up to you to hire anyway ha ha ha...but maybe you can give me tour of your building so I can have more idea what you guys do. You know, you can learn a lot just by reading the manuals when things go wrong or even before they go wrong so you are ready when they do occur. You can do that on just about anything. I sued two individuals on my own because they didn't do what they were supposed to do and I was damaged. I looked around for lawyers to help me out but they were too expensive and no one wanted to take the case on contingency. Some were even too rude and lack people skill for me, kind-a like if there's no money in it for me, get out of my face attitude. I ended up bringing the suit on my own in a superior court(not small claim)and ended up going against two attornies. One, a woman attorny, was very cocky and thought she was going to run all over me. I read a lot to make myself my own attorny(they call that pro per) and followed the procedures of the court. I was very nervous but you know what, my readings prepared me on what to do and ended getting what I wanted. We settled out of court for some monies in the ten's thousands.

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

64 months ago

I would have to show you around for a year or more to show you what we do. An apprentice program is 4 years, my training at the Academy was 3 very intense years. And a new graduate journeyman is green very green. I would say after graduating it took over 5 years in the field before O was experienced enough to work on anything by myself on a rutine basis.

I would not want a journeyman on my crew who has not turned the wrench. the book is only a start.

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Len in San Jose in Oakland, California

64 months ago

As an example.

YOu have a cooling tower fan on a VFD. You find it tripped out. The drive shows an alarm 16 dead short on out put. NOw what, the building has only one tower and needs the AC now.

Solution: Shut down chiller. Get VOM open MCC disconnect. Open disconnect at fan. Test fan disconnect to fan for dead short. Test from vfd to disconnect. Get fair readings. Close disconnects. Bring fan up to speed slowly checking amps in and out. Determined I could run ar approx 43 HZ. it stays. If I went over 45 it tripps. Fine now I have a fan but at a reduced rate what does that mean. I can not run the chiller fully loaded. Reprogram chiller to max 50% start plant and it just holds. Very little of this is in any book or manual. You have to underastand each piece of equipment, each sub system, and how the whole systtem works. When it will not work normally you have to adapt and I have never seen tht in any manual or book.

One of the reasons my schooling was so good was because the school had a training ship and the students ran the ship in real life operations.

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

That's what I was trying to say. Get as much understanding of the system so you'll know how to attack it if it breaks down. Reading the manuals might not show you everything unlike real event but if you understand how each system works then you know what to do when things doesn't happen like they're suppose to. Just like a simple thing like a light bulb for instance, you know it's suppose to turn on when you turn on the switch but if doesn't then you look for inputs. Is there voltage going to the bulb? If there is then you know what the problem is. When you troubleshoot things you need to know how the system works - otherwise you'll never what to look for. Troubleshooting is the same for everything, you have to know what they are and their function before you can troubleshoot it. Whether it's electrical, plumbing, or hydraulic system and others it's the same logical approach.

Btw, what you did above was a temporary fix. Did you end up replacing the fan motor?

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

What was causing the problem? Wiring connection? Bad motor?

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Len in San Jose in Castro Valley, California

64 months ago

It is on order. Two weeks out. Hope it does not get hot. This is an other example of things that are not in the manual. Not any motor will do, ut has to withstand moisture and as the motor sits vertical it has to have heavy duty thrust bearings.

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

So it was the motor as I suspected.

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

I wasn't talking about reading the manuals to look for a fix for a partecular problem although there's manuals that give you what if scenario. The problem you described above I found the answer by researching the scenario. See what I mean by doing some reading? researching?

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Mario in Modesto, California

64 months ago

"Len good buddy" Do you have any more you want me to troubleshoot for you there good buddy? I can be a building babysitter just like you, in fact it is nothing to it.

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Mario in Modesto, California

62 months ago

Len in San Jose in Oakland, California said: I would have to show you around for a year or more to show you what we do. An apprentice program is 4 years, my training at the Academy was 3 very intense years. And a new graduate journeyman is green very green. I would say after graduating it took over 5 years in the field before O was experienced enough to work on anything by myself on a rutine basis.

I would not want a journeyman on my crew who has not turned the wrench. the book is only a start.

Len, oh Len, where are you Len? Do you have anymore problem you want us non experienced troubleshoot for you Len? I bet you don't even know how to troubleshoot huh Len?

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Len in San Jose in Fremont, California

62 months ago

Mario in Modesto, California said: Len, oh Len, where are you Len? Do you have anymore problem you want us non experienced troubleshoot for you Len? I bet you don't even know how to troubleshoot huh Len?

No I doubt if you will ever make it in. You have no clue, and I was a little slow to pick up on it. Bye

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Mario in Modesto, California

62 months ago

Yeah, go do your routine maintenance like replacing filter, water treatment, taking pressure and temperature reading, etc. But when it comes to troubleshooting you don't know what to do like you've shown. You make it sound like your the greatest but in reality you aren't capable of troubleshooting electrical problems.

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Saul in Oakland, California

57 months ago

Mario, thats not nice. Hope your job search is going well.

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Mario in Stockton, California

57 months ago

You're right Saul, thanks. Sorry Len.

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awd in San Jose, California

51 months ago

Yeah Mario, whats up with your attitude?
You lack RESPECT because when one man gives it your supposed to return it.
You asked up and down what his job was about only to tell him he cant do his job?

I was impressed with what Len had to say. Good read..

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James in Hayward, California

50 months ago

Mario you are a moron!

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workin in Tacoma, Washington

49 months ago

I think "moron" is being nice.

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