Power Plant Technology

Delivery method: On campus, online
Program begins: on campus (Fall, Spring) online (every three to five weeks)

Program Description

The Power Plant Technology program at BSC focuses on educating and training students and incumbent workers in the operation of electrical generation facilities of various types. BSC offers on campus and online options that prepare graduates for entry-level jobs at modern power plants where steam and/or electricity is generated. Students learn all phases of the industry, including operation of equipment and systems, mechanical and chemical technology, and the safety culture of the industry.

A limited number of students are enrolled in August and January for courses on campus. Courses offered online begin every three to five weeks and are not subject to limited enrollment.


Background in basic chemistry, basic physics and high school Algebra I is helpful. Prospective students should be prepared for the physical demands of entry-level technician positions. Typical industry requirements include passing a physical exam, which may entail lifting 50+ pounds, climbing ladders, and working in confined spaces or heights. Job applicants also may be required to pass a drug screen and eye exam, including the ability to distinguish between colors accurately. Energy industry jobs typically require shift work and overtime hours.

Program Requirements

Students who complete the degree plan requirements receive a Program Certificate or Associate in Applied Science degree.

Required program entrance scores:

  • ACCUPLACER Math – 41 (elementary algebra)
  • ACT Math – 16
  • COMPASS Math – 34 (pre-algebra)

Special Costs (on campus only)

A $100 deposit, required upon acceptance into the program, is applied toward tuition. Fee is non-refundable if you decide not to attend BSC.

Career Opportunities

A career in power plant technology provides excellent pay and employability with strong job demand expected nationwide for years to come. Graduates are prepared to work in the electrical generation field but also have fundamental knowledge to work in water treatment plants, wind farms, process technology facilities, co-generation power plants and many other types of manufacturing facilities. Besides power plants, job settings include research and development facilities, industrial process operations, or the sales and service fields.

Additional Information

Credits from this program may be applied to BSC’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree (BAS) in Energy Management, offered entirely online. The BAS is designed for individuals interested in supervisory and management positions in the energy industry. The BAS builds on the foundation laid in an AAS degree and includes general education classes, core management courses, and energy specific management courses.

BSC’s National Energy Center of Excellence was designated as the National Power Plant Operations Technology and Education Center by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman in 2007. This official designation recognizes BSC as the premier national center of education and training for operators and technicians in the energy industry.


701-224-5651 • 800-852-5685

ENRT 101. Introduction to Energy Technology

Credits: 4
An introduction to the expanding energy industry. Students will learn about a variety of energy facilities from traditional to renewable, including but not limited to fossil fuel power plants, petroleum refineries, ethanol and biodiesel facilities, gasification plants, wind farms, geothermal and hydro power production facilities, natural gas processing facilities, petroleum production, water and wastewater treatment and others. The role of the technician in these facilities will be a focus, as will be the expectations and culture of the industry.

ENRT 103. Applied Math

Credits: 3
Typically Offered: FASPSU
This course will teach basic math skills and apply them to energy industry situations. Students will learn the metric system, basic volume and area calculations as well as algebra and trigonometry and how they apply to industry specific situations.

ENRT 104. Electrical Fundamentals

Credits: 3
This course covers basic direct current theories and applies those to the electrical system and related equipment. Students will also study basic DC circuit calculations. This course will also cover basic alternating current theories and apply those theories to electrical systems and related equipment. Students will study various methods of producing a voltage. Students will also study essential generator and motor design, construction and operating principles.

ENRT 105. Safety, Health and Environment

Credits: 3
This course covers the personal protective equipment and proper safe work practices and procedures commonly used in the energy industry. Students will also gain a working knowledge of standard safety, health and environmental practices and regulations set by various government entities.

ENRT 107. Mechanical Fundamentals

Credits: 2
Typically Offered: FALL
This course provides an introduction to mechanical concepts commonly found in a plant setting. Topics covered include hand tools, piping, valves, steam traps and strainers. In addition, pumps, compressors, drivers, fans and rotating equipment are covered. Bearings, seals and lubrication are a focus in this course, as well as heat exchanger designs. Plant terminology and operator expectations are covered also.

ENRT 110. Plant Equipment and Systems

Credits: 4
Typically Offered: FALLSPR
This course provides an introduction to equipment used in the power, process and renewable industries. Valves, piping, pumps, compressors, generators, turbines, motors, lubrication systems, heat exchangers, furnaces, boilers, cooling towers, separators, reactors, and distillation columns are covered. The utilization of this equipment within systems will be covered.

ENRT 112. Print Reading

Credits: 3
This course covers schematics, prints, and piping and instrument diagrams used in the energy industry. Students will learn how to read and interpret block and single-line diagrams, which will prepare them for the logic and electrical schematics included in this course.

ENRT 116. Instrumentation and Control

Credits: 4
This course provides a comprehensive study of instrumentation components, control theory, control systems and typical controllers associated with the operation of energy facilities.

ENRT 118. Heat Transfer, Fluid Flow & Thermodynamics

Credits: 3
Students enrolled in this course will study heat transfer, fluid flow and the conservation of energy. Specific equipment design considerations based on thermodynamic principles will be covered.

ENRT 120. Water Purification and Treatment

Credits: 3
This course covers industrial water treatment processes. Students will study boiler water treatment, raw water treatment and the design and operation of ion exchangers. The course also covers cooling water treatment equipment and waste water treatment equipment and systems.

ENRT 205. Steam Generation

Credits: 3
In this course the various types of boilers, systems, components and auxiliary systems associated with steam generators are covered. Different designs of boilers will be covered including low/high pressure, fire tube/water tube, negative/positive draft, drum type and others. Boiler operation, combustion, safety and emission control equipment will be covered along with efficiency measures.

ENRT 215. Operations, Troubleshooting & Communications

Credits: 3
Students will gain the knowledge necessary to comprehend overall plant operations and respond to abnormal operating conditions. Students also will participate in root cause analysis exercises while troubleshooting different operating scenarios. This course provides instruction in the different types of troubleshooting techniques, procedures, and methods used to solve process problems. Students will use existing knowledge of equipment, systems and instrumentation to understand the operation of an entire unit in a facility. Students study concepts related to commissioning, normal startup, normal operations, normal shutdown, turnarounds, and abnormal situations, as well as the process technicians individual and team role in performing tasks associated with these concepts within an operating unit.

ENRT 220. Practical Applications

Credits: 2
Students will participate in hands-on lab activities, internships or industry job shadowing to gain entry-level job competencies.

PWRP 203. Energy Sources and Conversions

Credits: 3
Students enrolled in this course will study the various forms of energy and the processes used to convert chemical and potential energy into thermal, mechanical and in some instances electrical energy. Energy sources that will be studied include fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), hydro, wind, fuel cells, solar, derived fuel, geothermal and nuclear. Combustion and reaction will be discussed in detail for those energy sources that require combustion to convert from one energy form to another.

PWRP 207. Boilers & Environmental Protection

Credits: 3
In this course, students will gain a more thorough understanding of the various types of boilers, systems, components and auxiliary systems associated with steam generation. Topics covered include low/high pressure, fire tube/water tube, negative/positive draft, drum type, supercritical and fluidized bed boilers. Boiler operation, combustion, safety and emission control equipment will be covered along with efficiency measures.

PWRP 210. Turbines and Combined Cycle

Credits: 3
Students enrolled in this course will study all the elements that make up a gas turbine and a combined cycle unit. This course also covers the safe and efficient operation of gas turbines and heat recovery steam generators and their different applications as used in combine cycle and cogeneration configurations.

PWRP 224. Power Generation Components and Protection

Credits: 3
Students enrolled in this course will study the design and construction of large industrial generators used in the production of electricity. Students will study the various exciter designs and operation and the various auxiliary equipment that supports generator operation. Students enrolled in this course will study the electrical systems from the main generator through the switchyard.