Process Plant Technology

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

Program Description

The Process Plant Technology program at BSC focuses on training students and incumbent workers in the operation of refineries, biofuel plants, coal gasification and petrochemical plants, and natural gas processing facilities. Students learn the technical and safety aspects of plant operations, responsibilities of operators, and the mechanical and chemical technology needed for working in related industrial operations. BSC offers on campus and online study options that prepare graduates for entry-level jobs in the energy 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 process plant technology provides excellent pay and employability. Strong job demand is expected nationwide for years to come. Graduates are prepared to work in the petrochemical field including refineries, ethanol plants, gasification, natural gas processing and others.  Employers look for operators who pay attention to details, have good computer skills, can identify problems and offer solutions. Graduates also find work in related industries such as pipeline transportation, petroleum and chemical products, mining and utilities.

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.

PROP 235. Hydrocarbon Chemistry

Credits: 3
This course provides a fundamental study of the organic chemistry of hydrocarbons associated with crude oil. This course will also focus on process chemistry, chemistry fundamentals, typical process reactions and process solubility theory.

PROP 237. Distillation and Refinery Operations

Credits: 4
This course provides a comprehensive study of processes associated with refining, and petrochemical distillation. This course will also focus on equipment designs, operation requirements and technician responsibilities associated with the operation of typical distillation facilities.

PROP 239. Gas Processing

Credits: 3
This course provides a comprehensive study of the processing technologies associated with the production of natural gas and other gases and liquids found within natural gas fields. Students study gas laws, molecular structure, process theory, terminology, equipment and the auxiliary systems that support the production and processing of natural gas. The production of synthetic natural gas by means of coal gasification will be covered.

PROP 244. Ethanol and Biofuels Production

Credits: 3
Students study the design, operation, equipment and process flows of ethanol plants and biofuels facilities including biodiesel plants. The student will gain the ability to interpret basic flow diagrams and understand related terminology. Focus will be on equipment design and operation used in these facilities as well as safety considerations, typical maintenance, and startup/shutdown procedures.