News Release

Release Date: January 17, 2013

New Agreement Makes Innovative NETL Simulator Training Available to Pierpont Students

AVESTAR Training Aimed at Helping Develop Well-Qualified Power Plant Field Operators

Washington, DC — Community and technical college students in West Virginia will learn about the safe, efficient, and reliable operation of clean energy plants utilizing unique simulator based training in a new agreement signed with the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

The agreement with Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, West Virginia, gives the school’s students access to the high-fidelity, real-time dynamic simulators and 3-D virtual immersive training systems at the AVESTAR™ Center in Morgantown, W.Va. The training will assist Pierpont and its industrial partner, FirstEnergy, in developing a well-qualified supply of field operators with control room experience for power generation stations in the region.

The AVESTAR Center comprises two equivalent facilities: one at NETL and one at West Virginia University’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy. Managed by leading energy experts, the center is dedicated to accelerating progress toward operational excellence for clean power plants capable of CO2 capture—specifically supercritical pulverized coal power plants, natural gas combined cycles, and integrated gasification combined cycles fueled by coal, petroleum coke, or biomass feedstocks. Students working toward a certificate in Pierpont’s 1-year Power Plant Technology Program will receive training at the AVESTAR facility at West Virginia University.

Pierpont’s access to the AVESTAR Center will extend training beyond the classroom and existing internships to the simulated control room and plant field operations, enabling Pierpont students to perform manual functions, such as opening or closing a valve or starting and stopping a pump from anywhere within the power plant. Simulation-based training provides realistic experience without compromising worker, equipment, and environmental safety. It also prepares students to manage the plant closer to constraints while minimizing or avoiding the impact of potentially harmful or wasteful occurrences. Additional benefits are improved communication and collaboration among students, and offline evaluations of procedures.

Collaborative efforts under the agreement also include development of a simulator-based training curriculum, handout materials, procedures, and exercises, as well as trainee performance evaluation criteria. Pierpont and utility simulator instructors will obtain "train-the-trainer" preparation from Fossil Consulting Services, an AVESTAR partner. The experience gained during the 2-year agreement will allow Pierpont instructors to explore the possibility of establishing an AVESTAR facility at Pierpont’s newly developed Advanced Technology Center.