Lessons that Work

Kayleigh McCoy’s field experience is key to opening doors to the working world.

A Maine Maritime Academy education combines knowledge and skills learned in classrooms and labs with field experiences in real-world job settings.

It’s a formula soon to pay off for Kayleigh McCoy, a power engineering technology major, Class of 2019, who completed an internship with Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC) in Orrington, Maine, and then continued working into the academic year.

The facility, which uses processed solid waste for fuel to generate electricity for thousands of Maine homes, has received awards from the EPA and others for its resource stewardship and efficiency.

Kayleigh McCoy

McCoy stands before solid waste from Maine municipalities that is processed and burned to generate electricity. Her job has taken her from handling a shovel to the facility’s control room operations.

More than 85 students have participated in MMA’s stationary plant field experience program at PERC since 1993, working on operations and maintenance crews, rotating 12-hour shifts during the summer under the watchful eyes of PERC’s supervisors and operators.

Although McCoy completed the summer program as required, she has continued to work at the plant on weekends during the school year.

“I perform most of the duties of a normal boiler operator,” says McCoy, “including helping manage feeders, boiler startup and shutdown, general maintenance and troubleshooting.”

“The work ethic is something I’ll take with me to the Navy.”

“The technical aspects of the job will definitely be helpful in the professional world, as well as the troubleshooting,” says McCoy, “but it’s also physically demanding, sometimes requiring shoveling ash for hours at a time.”

Students who’ve completed field experiences at PERC have gone on to become field service engineers, project engineers, and start-up and commissioning engineers with Siemens, General Electric, Babcock & Wilcox and SNC Lavalin, as well others, says Chuck Easley, Cooperative Education Coordinator.

Currently, about 70 students are qualified to participate in the 2019 stationary plant program, which is overseen by Mark Cote, Professor of Engineering.
McCoy’s first field experience was with Kapstone Paper in Longview, Washington.

She is enrolled in the MMA NROTC program and plans to work in the area of nuclear propulsion in the Navy’s submarine force upon graduation.

“The work ethic at PERC is something I’ll take with me to the Navy,” says McCoy, “Everyone works very hard, and I hope to emulate that.”

Photos: Emily Baer

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