Developing Students' Troubleshooting Skills in Energy Programs


The Northern Oklahoma College and partners across five states are developing problem-based equipment, process, and systems troubleshooting instructional modules for various energy degree programs. The goal of the team is increasing students' knowledge and enhancing their demonstrated skills in troubleshooting; with the objective of improving safety, impact on the environment, and efficiency in the energy industry.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of accidents during the past few years as evidenced by the investigative studies conducted by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). A recent scan within the broader energy industry revealed incidents in the oil and gas, power generation, ethanol production, and biodiesel production sectors. Thus, the ability to enhance troubleshooting skills is needed for the nation to develop a highly competent energy workforce, maintain the consistent production of energy, lessen the dependence on foreign energy sources and contribute to the security and safety of the energy facilities. 

In response to this need, the partnership is designing, developing and implementing 18 generic equipment scenarios and 16 process/system-specific troubleshooting instructional modules for energy technicians that can either be: 1) used as stand-alone modules or 2) integrated into a capstone course for college students. The modules are providing students with an opportunity to acquire relevant troubleshooting knowledge and skills that prepare them to handle process upsets while working in the energy industry. Furthermore, students are able to showcase their acquired troubleshooting skills during a simulator competition.

This effort is having a significant impact by: (1) providing professional development for subject matter experts from colleges and industry to ensure competency in designing/developing instructional materials and teaching troubleshooting modules; (2) promoting national security and energy independence by providing a highly skilled and educated energy technician workforce; and (3) disseminating insights on students' critical thinking and troubleshooting skills to the education community. The project's influence covers a large geographical area; while the developed modules can be easily used in community college settings as well as industrial in-house training programs.

ATE Award Metadata

Award Number
1104089, 1457711
Funding Status
ATE Start Date
September 15th, 2011
ATE Expiration Date
October 31st, 2016
ATE Principal Investigator
Martha McKinley
Primary Institution
Lone Star College System College District
Record Type
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