Economic Opportunities Program

Luminant Power Track Program

Fast Facts

  • Luminant Power Track trains students for entry-level employment in power plant operation
  • Students study with the assistance of $2,500-per-semester Power Track scholarships funded by Luminant
  • Power Track participants may earn a Power Plant Technology Associate of Science (AAS) degree and Certificate of Proficiency
  • Partnership drove a statewide curriculum model for energy career cluster   

Luminant Academy: An Introduction 

Luminant, a competitive power generation business and subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings Corp., partnered with Tyler Junior College (TJC) and the Tyler Economic Development Council to form Luminant Academy. Founded in 2006, Luminant Academy provides technical, lean manufacturing and leadership training for current and future Luminant employees.

In 2008, Luminant constructed a two-story, 24,000-square foot training facility on TJC’s West Campus that includes classrooms, training labs, and high-fidelity boiler simulators that imitate the actual operation of Luminant power plants. Luminant invested $1.7 million in the Academy, which is staffed with 10 employees, as well as outside trainers and instructors. Luminant Academy trains nearly 300 students per year.

In 2011, the Luminant Power Track program was introduced at Luminant Academy, with students working toward an associate degree in power plant technology through Tyler Junior College. Upon completion of the program, students are qualified to obtain entry-level employment in the operation of modern fossil fuel power plants, gas turbine facilities, hydroelectric plants and other facilities where electricity is generated. 

How the Power Track Program Works 

The Power Track program was developed as a means of replenishing the company's technical leadership at its power plants in Texas.  The career development program provides an inside track to a career in the power plant industry. Students accepted into the program recieve: 

  • A two-year associate degree in Power Plant Technology or an Associate in Applied Science degree depending on their completed credit hours
  • A paid summer internship working with a mentor at a Luminant power plant in Texas between the student’s first and second year
  • This internship is seen by the company as a career “test-drive”, that can grow into a full-time position. The company tests out the intern to see if they have what it takes to become a quality Luminant employee, and the intern tests out Luminant as a place they might want to work upon graduation

The Program 

In 2011, TJC received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Commission on Colleges Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer a Power Plant Technology associate’s degree in Science and a Certificate of Proficiency.

A Power Plant Technology advisory committee, comprised of TJC and Luminant representatives, established a curriculum that would include appropriate general education courses, technical courses and student learning outcomes for the degree and certificate programs. The advisory committee meets annually to review outcomes and industry trends.

In the Power Track program, students learn technical and safety aspects of plant operations; responsibilities of plant operators; and mechanical and chemical technology required for jobs in related industrial fields. Courses specific to the industry are taught at the Luminant Academy and most of the courses are taught by Luminant Academy instructors.

Students may elect to receive a Certificate of Proficiency in Power Plant Technology upon completion of 31 credit hours or pursue an associate’s degree in Applied Science, which requires 60 hours of credit.

Benefits 

In addition to preparing individuals to fill open positions that will be created by retirement, new jobs also are expected to be created. These new job openings are expected to arise as Texas power generation facilities increase power production by an estimated 30,500 megawatts. Through the Power Track program, students gain the skills necessary to thrive in the power plant industry and will have the opportunity for employment at power plant facilities throughout Texas.

Luminant employs more than 2,800 employees statewide at its mines and power plants. Veteran Luminant employees are often inspired by Power Track interns to take advantage of advanced education opportunities. Since the implementation of Power Track, employee training has increased 59%.

As TJC and Luminant developed the curriculum for the Power Track program, the energy industry simultaneously created a statewide Energy Career Cluster Project. This project, funded by a Carl D. Perkins Grant, was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a statewide curriculum model for the energy career cluster and to encourage college credit for industry training. Representatives from companies including: Luminant Energy, Entergy Energy, Lower Colorado River Authority, CPS and NGR Energy participated in the project.

“We’re already starting to see tremendous value in the program. Our goal is not only to help these students gain the skills they need for a lifetime, but to provide them the opportunity to become our next generation of power plant leadership.” 

– Dr. Dirk Hughes, Director of Luminant Academy                                                                            

Results 

The Power Track program began with 33 students enrolled in the fall of 2011. Students were encouraged to pursue an associate's degree and all who remain in the program are pursuing the associate's degrees. The first group of associate’s degree students will graduate in May of 2013. To continue meeting industry needs, TJC and Luminant are exploring expansion options for the Academy’s facilities.

Skills for America's Future (SAF) is a non-partisan, employer-led initiative of the Aspen Institute. It is focused on creating a national network of partnerships among employers, community colleges, industry associations and other stakeholders. These partnerships are designed to ensure that American workers receive the necessary training to meet the skill needs of employers, giving them the opporunity to obtain and keep good jobs. 

For more information about how your company can partner with community colleges and Skills for America's Future, contact saf@aspeninstitute.org.