OSU Institute of Technology’s Natural Gas Compression program got an early Christmas present in December with a donation of almost $50,000 in new trainers.
MOTORTECH, a company headquartered in Germany, delivered the custom trainers and simulators to the Chesapeake Energy Natural Gas Compression Training Center last month with OSUIT President Bill Path, Dean Roy Achemire, and OSU Foundation Development Director Glenn Zannotti on hand to accept the gift. The company, which also has a branch in the U.S., manufactures electronic components including ignitions, coils, spark plugs and controllers for the natural gas industry.
Florian Virchow, CEO of MOTORTECH, said when companies have issues with their engine systems, they turn to MOTORTECH—which often will create a new product to meet their needs, as well as the industry’s needs.
“We try to innovate,” Virchow said. “We design products that should offer diagnostic preventative maintenance so the system tells you when something needs attention.”
After being told about OSUIT’s Natural Gas Compression program from an executive with MOTORTECH Americas, Virchow visited the campus in August and was impressed by the program but also saw an opportunity to help it improve.
“It took me awhile to decide— about five minutes,” he joked. “When I went home I asked my guys ‘What can we do? How can we make it as easy as possible for the students?’”
His team at the MOTORTECH headquarters in Germany custom-built four trainers and two simulators designed specifically for OSUIT as well as shipped additional tools and equipment, making the value of the donation close to $50,000.
“Everything is handmade, and it was a lot of time and a lot of work,” Virchow said, but it’s necessary for the industry in the U.S. “I think this industry needs a big step forward. A lot of the equipment used today is out of date.”
Roy Achemire, dean and George Kaiser Family Foundation Endowed Chair of the School of Energy Technologies, said these donated trainers and simulators are invaluable to the program.
“It’s a quantum leap for our engine electrical systems training,” Achemire said. “It was very difficult to teach without something hands on to work on. Now we can actually see how the system works. Before we would have to show a video of how it worked.”
Virchow said it’s important that graduates have as much training and experience with the equipment they will come in contact with when they start working in the industry, which was a driving factor in his decision to build the trainers.
“It’s for the younger generation. We need them to step up. There are a lot of people who have been in the industry as long as I have, but they’re retiring soon,” he said. “The industry needs technicians with experience. We still need hands-on people.”
The new trainers from MOTORTECH will give students an unprecedented edge when it comes to joining the workforce after they graduate, Achemire said.
“Everything is controlled by electronics. Our program was good before in what we offered in electronics training, but this takes us to a totally new level,” he said. “Our students will be so far beyond anyone else who is just coming into the industry.”