A plant engineer is someone who works for a company and is in charge of maintaining and repairing machinery and equipment. Plant engineers work for a variety of companies, including manufacturing companies and power plants. Many large corporations hire several engineers to ensure that someone is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plant engineers are typically well compensated, but engineers with specialized knowledge and advanced degrees are even better compensated due to the high demand for employees with such skills around the world.
A college engineering degree is usually required of a plant engineer. Employers typically look for candidates with engineering degrees relevant to the industry, such as mechanical, nuclear, chemical, or electrical engineering degrees. A plant engineer usually begins his or her career as a member of a plant crew, where he or she is responsible for general maintenance. Senior engineers have the potential to advance to supervisory and management roles. Engineering managers are responsible for assisting in the training and recruitment of new employees, as well as the coordination of staffing schedules and the management of departmental budgets.
The plant engineer is usually responsible for performing daily safety checks on heavy machinery and equipment in manufacturing companies. To ensure that machines are running smoothly, the engineer must conduct a series of basic tests. Companies are required to conduct regular safety checks in many places, and local inspectors work with plant engineers to ensure that all health and safety regulations are followed. Many plants require plant engineers to perform regular preventative maintenance on equipment, which necessitates a thorough understanding of the machinery involved.
Plant engineers communicate with management and production teams to resolve issues with machinery and equipment that stifle production or pose a safety risk. Some plant engineers are in charge of coming up with new ways to increase production and reduce costs. Senior engineers frequently work with production employees to train them on how to operate and maintain new equipment.
Plant engineers are employed power plants, with some performing basic maintenance and safety tasks and others requiring specialized knowledge. Because they supervise the process of generating electricity from radioactive materials, plant engineers at nuclear power plants are usually required to have advanced degrees in physics and nuclear engineering. Nuclear engineers must make certain that radioactive materials are stored safely and that nuclear reactors are structurally sound. When a power plant leaks, plant engineers in protective clothing attempt to stop the leak and assess the safety risk to the rest of the plant and the surrounding area.