SAIT to Host OSLI-Inspired Program
The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has been chosen by OSLI to host a new Water Treatment Operator program that will train people to work within the complex water treatment plants that are critical to Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) in situ operations.
“It’s really exciting to be working on developing this program for OSLI and being part of the initiative,” says Emily Lees, Academic Chair for Chemical Laboratory Technology, and Environmental Technology at SAIT’s MacPhail School of Energy.
“We saw an opportunity to share our expertise and expand our course offerings in technology. We have expertise in water chemistry and this program deals with that issue so overall it’s a very good fit.”
SAIT was among several educational institutions that responded to OSLI’s Request For Proposals to help develop and host the course. SAIT will now take the lead, with OSLI’s input, in developing course curriculum for the program, which could be up and running by fall 2012.
"SAIT has a good, solid track record in starting programs and, as a result, they have the resources in place — project management, quality control and curriculum development,” explains Duane Kichton, OSLI’s project lead for the Water Treatment Operator program.
“We see course development as a 12-month process,” says Kichton. “We want a quality program so we have to take the time to develop a good product.”
SAIT and OSLI participated in three program-mapping workshops, facilitated by the Centre of Institutional Technology and Development (CITD), which provided details that will assist in developing course modules. This information was added to data collected last year by OSLI's Water Management Working Group (WMWG) from water treatment operators at SAGD facilities, which use steam to heat molasses-like bitumen underground until it can flow into pipes and be pumped to the surface.
The WMWG has taken the idea of Water Treatment Operator training from zero to 60 in a short timeframe. The group came together in mid-2010 to discuss water treatment and identify similar problems they faced with competency in the industry. From those discussions they brought together water operators and water treatment specialists from the five OSLI member companies to determine exactly what the duties and tasks of water treatment operators are before approaching post-secondary institutions.
Lees says the SAIT/OSLI team, which includes subject matter experts from the MacPhail School of Energy’s faculty and from OSLI, with facilitation by CITD, have outlined the outcomes for the program, defined the ten program courses and developed the outcomes for each course, all within a credential framework. All perspectives and areas of expertise were represented in this development. The next step is preparing learning designs for each course by the subject matter experts.
Lees says SAIT and OSLI are looking at two phases for the program with Phase I consisting of web-based courses that can be taken by operators currently working at OSLI member-company in situ plants. Phase II, which is still in the planning stage, will be available at a later date for those who wish to continue to an advanced level with the program.
Lees says graduates of the SAGD Water Treatment Operator program will receive a Certificate of Achievement, which recognizes completion of the program and includes a formal evaluation of performance.
Kichton explains that the Water Treatment Operators program will create a consistent skill set for individuals in this role. Right now some operators have their Second or Third Class Power Engineer in order to run steam plants and in-house training to operate the adjacent water treatment facilities.
“As demand increases for these positions, the program will increase the pool of talent and allow people to really hit the ground running.”