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The not-so-secret lives of field engineers

Glyceril Bigbig | June 18, 2018

Opening and closing of valves is just one of the many duties of a field engineer. Valve work difficulties range from “no sweat,” a.k.a. easy-to-open valves, to “valves that would make you give up and cry,” a.k.a. almost immovable valves.

 

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Field En·gi·neer (n.) /fēld ˌenjəˈnir/

 

What you thought you knew

A field engineer’s job is not “a walk in a park”, as they say. Being an FE requires a wide array of skills and attitude including hard work, multi-tasking, and a keen eye for abnormalities. To effectively perform their various functions, field engineers ensure that they are always physically prepared and mentally alert because every second counts in keeping the plant running. A minute of inaction or hesitation can result to avoidable loss of the unit.

 

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Bisag naglakaw lakaw ra mi, dili mi chill kay ga monitor mi, dili lang nag suroy-suroy (We are not just wandering around the plant aimlessly, we monitor [everything]).

 

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What they actually do

 

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What sparks their circuits

Knowledge and experiences gained are what the field engineers love most about what they do — to be able to apply theoretical learning versus what the actual experience teaches them. These lessons learned in the field and the positive working environment from their colleagues make work stress bearable.

 

As a Mechanical Engineer, you’ll get immersed with many equipment—different types of equipment with different conditions, operational parameters and potential problems. Work is not predictable.

–John Mark Diel
Field Engineer
Therma South, Inc. (TSI)

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The roadblocks

Physical and mental exhaustion are not the only challenges that FEs have to face. One of the many difficulties of the job include:

In addition, staying up all night during night shifts and dealing with its repercussions is not really a piece of cake.

But despite of all these challenges, FEs love and enjoy their job.

 

Maabugan mi, mainitan, masakitan, masingtan (We’re all subject to dust, heat, pain, and sweat).

–Rino Barioga
Field Engineer
TSI

A sense of joy

Getting tasks done and having a productive day at work give satisfaction to an FE. This, along with properly addressing a problem in a timely manner, identifying and reporting a critical abnormality which might have led to a trip, successful troubleshooting and being able to share knowledge to co-FEs.

The most satisfying part of being an FE is being able to relax after everything is normalized.

 

In a nutshell

Field engineers are the senses of the power block — they see, feel, and hear what is beyond the walls of the control room. They handle equipment that can only be operated in the field (manually) and ensure that these run smoothly, and that all orders and procedures are carried out correctly. They are the first line of defense against emergencies and problems and they report anything unusual to avoid unplanned shutdown. All this, while being exposed to various hazards inside the plant.

Truly, a power plant is never complete without its field engineers.

 

Our work may not be as important as a CRE’s (control room engineer), but we are still significant because there are some things that cannot be seen, heard, or felt in the control room, which only we can see, heard, or feel while on the field.

–Dennis Quitoriano
Field Engineer
TSI

 

If you want to witness how the plant runs from the start—to know every nook and cranny, be an FE.

–Khalil Justin Catacutan
Field Engineer
TSI

FE groufie

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