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*** In 2016, the GE Field Engineering Program will be 50 Years Old!***

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WELCOME to Turbine Cowboy! The website is in its 10th year. We currently have 517 members! Only graduates of GE's field engineering program (FEP) or current FEP trainees are eligible. In 2016, the FEP will celebrate 50 years training GE field service engineers. If you are a "direct hire" and went through GE field training, you too MIGHT be considered for membership, subject to approval. Contact Dave Lucier at dwlucier42@gmail.com and ask to join. Others considered for "honorary membership" are product department and headquarters employees who have technically supported the FEP, or field engineers in general.

Once you become a TC.com Member, click open FEP Member's List here to find your page or search for other FEP grads who have registered. You can correspond with them directly via their email addresses in the right-side column! Find a long lost buddy or someone who still owes you rent $$$ from your FEP days in Schenectady! :-) Use the SEARCH tool at the top right to find old friends mentioned herein. Also, we suggest you use the NORMAL or LARGE text option at the top right for better viewing.

Please click on your individual HOME PAGE and provide a BRIEF BIO including your FEP Class Year, district office, field career years, current job and company, family and other items of interest. To do this click on "my folder", select view, then select edit. Delete what is in the box and type in your own BIO.

NOTICE: Turbine Cowboy has ABSOLUTELY NO affiliation with General Electric Company! The Big Bulb's crack staff of "website watchdogs" have threatened us, making us disavow any association with The General. As if there could be any doubt, TC.com is solely the innovation of two fun-loving, FEP grads (Dave Lucier & Charlie Pond) who want to share field engineering experiences with other so-called M&N Flangeheads and E&E Spark Chasers. We know that the lives of field engineers are far TOO WEIRD to be taken seriously!

Why was the Turbine Cowboy website created?

Turbine Cowboy was created to salute FEP-trained field engineers and their field work. Think of it as the FEP Yearbook we never had! We invite graduates of both mechanical & electrical Field Engineering Programs to visit the site and contribute their stories and photos. As you have experienced, when you get a few field engineers together, tall tales begin to flow (embellished, for sure). Laughs soon follow. Other listeners (like wives, girlfriends or both, if you have both) can't relate to the sick humor of our career. It always generates some STRANGE looks from them too!

The unique careers of field engineers need to be recorded for antiquity (and perhaps the FBI). Please upload any true stories, FEP class photos and other candid pictures. The site is R-rated, of course. After all, we are field engineers! However, site administrators might have to reject some X-Rated photos and edit some of the greasier stories (for the field language, not for content).

Turbine Cowboy is the brainchild of Dave Lucier and Charlie Pond. Most of the FEP grads of the late 1970s and early 1980s will likely remember us. For those who don’t (or who have lost their memories), Dave started as a FEP grad (1968), instructor (1977-1980) and became the first FEP manager of the Mechanical Program (1980-1983). He managed entry-level steam & gas turbine training. Charlie was an FEP grad in (1978), who later became an instructor (1980-85). Both say that the most rewarding job they ever had was teaching at the FEDC.

This site is linked to the company we started: PAL Turbine Services, LLC. Please visit the PAL website: www.pondlucier.com and see what we've been up to since leaving The General. We currently have 15 FEP grads on the PAL staff and affiliates, with many other ex-GE guys and gals to provide services on GE turbines/generators. Three PAL staff engineers passed away recently: Raymond Duell, Robin Ashley and Charlie Pond.

Turbine Cowboy Rides again

Why the name Turbine Cowboy?

An FEP grad in the late-1970s named, Dennis Ledbetter, was also an accomplished country & western guitar player and singer. He wrote and recorded a C&W song in 1981 called "TURBINE COWBOY" It was a 45-rpm disc (remember those?). Listen to Turbine Cowboy by Dennis Ledbetter

TURBINE COWBOY obviously plays on the popular John Travolta movie of that era: Urban Cowboy. We field engineers often look upon our careers (the work and travel) as if we are COWBOYS, roaming the world to work on TURBINES and generators.

Send an email to Dennis at dennispledbetter@gmail.com to purchase an autographed copy of his new CD “IF YOU DRIVE ME TO DRINKIN' (I'll buy the gas).” The CD includes a new version of The Turbine Cowboy.

Origins of the GE Mechanical Field Engineering Program (FEP) by Dave Lucier

In 1966, the Installation & Service Engineering (I&SE) Division started the Field Engineering Program (FEP). There were actually two programs: Mechanical and Electrical. The goal was to train field engineers to work on the installation and maintenance of power generation and industrial products. These engineers would replace turbine erectors and generator specialists sent out from the factory to work on equipment.

The Mechanical-Nuclear FEP was first managed by Joe Markey, himself a former steam turbine erector. The training facility at the time (1966) was located in Building 28 on the 5th floor. This building was headquarters of the Switchboard Department and located near the railroad tracks on South Ave inside the Main Plant in Schenectady, NY. The program remained based there for about six years, until a new facility, called the Field Engineering Development Center (FEDC), was constructed in 1974 at 2690 Balltown Road, Niskayuna, NY. Markey remained the program manager when it moved to Niskayuna. The new faciltiy was tucked away back from Balltown Road and was also called Building 600.

In the mid-1970s, the FEP staff grew considerably under Markey. Dave Lucier, an instructor hired in 1977, was promoted to be the first FEP manager for the mechanical program in 1980, still under Markey. Dave's responsibilities included entry-level, field engineering training on both gas and steam turbines. NOTE: The Nuclear FEP was shifted to San Jose, CA a year before.

The Mechanical FEP program was expanded to 18 weeks including:

  • 1 week Orientation
  • 4 weeks Mechanical Principles
  • 2 weeks Electrical Fundamentals
  • 5 weeks Gas Turbine Technology
  • 5 weeks Steam Turbine Technology

In 1979, the FEDC building was expanded, allowing the Electrical & Electrical FEP to move into the new wing. This also freed up the mechanical lab to allow more turbine hardware. There were several steam turbines in the lab already. A marine TG set came in 1980, and in 1984, the FEDC got its first gas turbine. It was a 1962-era MS5001D purchased (purchased for scrap) from Delmarva Power & Light in Dover, Delaware.

The mechanical lab area had several supervisors over the years. All were ex-GE field engineers including Andy Tomko, Don Simmons, Dave Couse & Dave Smith. The lab grew in activities and importance to the FEP. Many “hands on” work stations were developed to train the FEP members with real-world experiences. Peter Morley and Paul Matula were lab tecnicians during this era.

The Advanced Technical Training (ATT) programs were managed by Hal Parker, a former steam turbine start-up engineer. Often referred to as Level II training, field engineers were brought back to the FEDC for higher-level training, including such one-week schools as: steam and gas turbine maintenance and Speedtronic, MHC and EHC controls. Also, courses for the Gas and Steam Turbine Start-up Programs were taught at the FEDC.

Under Markey in the 1980s, the staff grew to 31 individuals, including 18 instructors, two managers, a lab supervisor, several lab assistants, and three secretaries. Ann Fossella was the FEP coordinator and the late Anne Nagy was the secretary (and second mother to many FEPs). This FEP team trained approximately 1000 FEP grads during a seven-year period from 1976 to 1983. To identify some of the instructors during the "FEP Hey Day," there were: Ralph McCreadie, Bob Morris and Walter Wintergerst. In mid-1970s, Doug Lemmo, Barry Knickerbocker, Hal Parker, Andy Tomko and Dave Lucier were hired. Around 1980, the staff grew signficantly when Peter Runyon, Dave Smith, Dave Couse, Al Shuman, John Mitchell, Charlie Pond, Rick O'Reilly, Lee Wilkerson, Terry Hutson, Joe Armstrong and Chuck Henry joined the staff. In mid-1980s, people like Dean Slack, Denise Palumbo and Reiner Schumacher replaced some of the earlier staffers when they moved on to other jobs. (I'm sure I missed several names. Please forgive me.)

The Level II staff during the early 1980s was managed by Hal Parker and included: Marc Eggenberger, Dick Abel, Rick Reffitt, Dietmar Breitkreuz, Frank Scovello, Dave Nilsen & Louise Halle (O'Reilly). They also participated significantly in training FEP classes in support of entry-level staff. The mechanical lab, with old turbines in the high bay and the hydraulics lab, were a vital part of the "hands on" training of the FEP. The labs filled the void for most FEPs who were deficient in their "how to" knowledge. Andy Tomko often reminded the guys with the motto: "To measure is to know," quoting Lord Kelvin.

Markey retired in 1986. He was succeeded by Louise (Halle) O'Reilly. From 1990-94, the slot was filled by John Vanderhoef, himself a FEP grad. The likes of Pete Oehman, Hugh Miles & Matt Chamberlin continued the string into the turn of the century.

In 1982, the name of the building was changed to Training & Development Center. Much to the chagrin of FEP grads over the years, the words "Field Engineering" were noticeably dropped from the Center's name. This change was done because other training (human resources stuff) was now being done in the facility, and GE Management wanted a more inclusive name. The FEDC no longer existed. A sad day for field engineers.

Around the year 2000, the facility became known as the Power Systems University. To many, this seemed an absurd name change, since no accredited degrees were granted to graduates of any of the programs. In the late 1970s, however, the FEP applied for accreditation from NY State. The FEP was evaluated and 16 undergraduate college credits were allowed for some engineering-degree programs, primarily because of the mechanical and electrical lab sessions and the written testing that was done during the FEP. We recall, that Frank Scovello is the only FEP grad (former steam turbine instructor) who has ever applied for college credits.

If you drive by the FEDC today (hmmmm. FEDC? Habits are hard to break!), you'll only see a sign that reads: 2690 Balltown Road. There is no reference to training at all. I guess this is a consequence of the terror of 9/11 and the current security mentality. Got to keep those FEP members from danger. Of course, the job itself of working on turbines hasn't gotten any safer for GE field engineers, as we observe. We ask, "Anyone want to install a turbine in the Middle East these days?"

According to the late Denise Palumbo, the current name of the building is the Energy Learning Center. I guess every time GE changes its image, they have to change the name of its training center!

In closing, the Field Engineering Program (FEP) began in 1966 and has enjoyed a 48-year lifespan, so far. The FEDC name is no more. However, we want to honor the nearly five decades of the program coming up soon in the year 2016. Let’s hope the FEP survives many more years.

Enjoy the website www.turbinecowboy.com!

Later, please visit www.pondlucier.com

Pond and Lucier

Created by admin
Last modified Wednesday, Sep-10-2014 06:36 PM

Johnny Turner

Posted by jhovorka at Thursday, Dec-09-2004 02:17 PM
Let's not forget the grand old man of the turbine industry and guest instructor, Johnny Turner, who opened his first lecture to us by showing us "one of the most important things you'll learn in the FEP - How to smile and wave at the Guard".
Does anyone else remember why Johnny wore his belt buckle on the side instead of centered? Email me your answers.

Walter H. Wintergerst

Posted by dlucier at Monday, Jan-03-2005 06:37 PM
Charlie Pond gets the prize for remembering the name of the steam turbine instructor, Walt Wintergerst. Walt was involved in training when it was done in Bldg. 28, as well as at the FEDC on Balltown Road.

Charlie remembers meeting Walter at the FEDC in the mid-1970s. We believe he still lives in Schenectady, NY.

Joseph H. Markey (FEP Mechanical Manager, 1966-1986)

Posted by dlucier at Wednesday, Feb-02-2005 05:40 AM
Joe Markey was the first manager of the Mechanical Training, which included the Field Engineering Program (FEP) and Advanced Technical Training (ATT). He was appointed to the position in 1966 and held it until he retired (1986, we believe). When the FEDC was built in 1974, he supervised the move to the Balltown Road facility. The 1974 FEP classes assisted in the move of turbines and other equipment to the new lab.

Joe was initially a steam turbine erector. We believe he worked out of the Chicago office (?). His photo appears in the **FEP 1977 and 1979 Instructional Staff** photos herein. Also, he was reunited with other retired field engineers and managers shown in the section herein entitled: **GE Field Engineering Program - The First Hundred Years.**

There is a story he once told to the FEP staff: He owned an aluminum-bodied vehicle back in the early 1940s. We were told that one day early during World War II, Joe drove his old vehicle to the junk yard and threw the keys to the proprietor. The government needed all the aluminum it could get at the time. Joe enlisted in the military soon thereafter and served in WW-II. Perhaps his ride became a fighter plane!

Another story: Joe used to like to cross-country ski. He often skiied to work after the FEDC opened in Niskayuna (circa 1974). He lived on Morrow Ave in Niskayuna and took the back woods to River Road (dodging traffic going to/from the GE Research & Development Cemter). It is a wide road, so we suspect Joe had to remove his slippery boards on most days to hustle across the street.

**Recollections of Dave Lucier & Charlie Pond**

Ralph McCreadie, Mr. CRI

Posted by dlucier at Friday, Jan-13-2006 11:23 AM
Ralph was one of the original gas turbine instructors who came to work for Joe Markey when the FEP was run out of Building 28 in the late 1960s. He implimented a teaching technique called Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI) in the mid-1970s based on a MS7001E gas turbine out in Iowa. Students were required to reference (look it up in the GE instruction books) to find answers to written questions. This taught the FEPs how to use the manuals, often to their consternation. They had to spend hours (days) to find the right answer. 100% was the only grade other than failure. In other words, look up the answer and get it right, or you're WRONG! Ralph did not make many friends with this teaching technique, but FEP grads, years later, came to realize how important it was!

Origins of the EE FEP by Phil May

Posted by dlucier at Sunday, Feb-26-2006 06:36 PM
The FEP-EE started in 1966 headed up by **Bob Hody** who came from Pittsburgh. It began on the 5th floor in building 28 as did the mechanical program headed by Joe Markey. Bob did a great job getting the program off the ground. The course material included:

* Digital Systems
* Drive Systems (Speed Variator and Directomatic ll)
*Switchgear
*AC machines
*Transformers

I’m sure there was other material, which I can’t remember. Dave Plumer was one of the prime in-house instructors. Most of the instructors were borrowed from the field and product departments. Some of the product department training was by way of field trips from Schenectady to:
- Erie
- Philadelphia
- Pittsfield
- Roanoke

Other training was through field assignments and product department (PD) assignments. This varied by individual, field needs, and PD assignments available. In 1969, Hody transferred to Salem and took over as product service manager and **Phil May** came from the Baton Rouge office to take over as FEP- EE manager. Virginia Guido, Irene Hayes and Linda Albright were secretaries at the time to handle mechanical and elecrical programs.

Lab work was very limited at this time. The course material was being controlled by others, so we decided we needed in-house course preparation and presentation. We began hiring in house instructors. Over the years there were many instructors including: Rick Chase, Larry Richter, Jim Lyons, Tom Maclaughlin, Pete Gamwell, John Marshall, Wally Dunn, Chris Weathers, Tim Kondek and Steve Herholtz (please forgive me I know I forgotten some, I’m sorry brain decay).

The EE-FEP program member numbers of electrical and mechanical engineers grown so that Phil May and **Joe Markey** needed help controlling their movement. That’s when we hired Ann Fossella to help out. We also brought in Lori from finance to help audit expenses. We acquired lab equipment from wherever we could beg, borrow or steal. A customer had an abandoned mill around Lake Champlain and donated some of the old equipment. Joe got the steam turbine and I got the switchgear. We used program engineers to dismantle the plant and put in storage along with other equipment we “acquired”. Motors were purchased for scrap prices and some donated by Erie. Walt Adams, manager of product service in Philadelphia, was a big help in obtaining equipment. We absconded with a motor generator set from the 6th floor of Building 28. It was used in testing turret and guns for planes built for WW2.

We designed and built much of our own training aids as well as clean, refurbished and redesigned much of the equipment to meet our needs. I’ll take the 5th on the rest.

The idea for a new facility (which came to be know as the **Field Engineering Development Center**), concept came up in 1972. With all the planning, architectural design, construction, etc we moved in to bare walls in 1973. The only thing installed in the labs during construction was cable trays overhead. All the lab equipment including conduit, wiring, etc. was installed by instructors and program engineers.

We had a problem with construction electricians still working on site. Electricians love GE Diaries. I distributed a few and convinced them that these were training exercises. I also asked them to keep an eye on the guys so they didn’t get hurt. They bought it and reported only a couple of things to warn the men about. No one got hurt and no strike!

Joe Markey and Phil May assumed the titles of Manager Internal Technical Training (MN – EE) respectively. The new **FEDC** was dedicated in 1974. The program was changed to include an orientation. We combined the two programs together for this period. This consisted of physicals exams, GE history, signing up for employee benefits, legal, and other non-technical material.

The EE program was scheduled for 9 weeks at the **Center** and 9 weeks field assignments at the end of 9 weeks the two groups were alternated. The FEPs were divided into groups of 24, since that was optimum class size. There were times when there were so many recruited we ran two groups simultaneously effectively doubling the workload on the instructors. Talk about dedication! Daily classes were ½ lecture and ½ lab where possible.

There are many great memories of those days and I would like to thank everyone who worked with me including the ones I forgot to mention. I had the best staff anyone would love to have. Their dedication was unbelievable. Much of the work in putting together the program by the instructors was done after hours on their own time. They also made themselves available after hours to anyone who needed help or wanted to spend more time in the lab.

Phil May transferred to the Dallas office as area manager at the end of 1978. **Rick Chase** was appointed to the title of Manager Internal Technical Training EE. There was to be an addition added to the building (circa 1980) to include computer training.

Fred Thompson reports

Posted by dlucier at Monday, Aug-25-2008 03:12 PM
Virginia and I have heard from Noreen Bottomley that John passed away on July 18th in Queensland Australia where they have been living since he retired from GETSCO.

John was a talented steam and gas turbine field engineer who was well liked by customers.

Our families became aquanited when John and I were working out of the Rome office in the late 1960's when Bob Knorr was the manager there. Later on John was in a supervisor's position in the Bahrain field engineer office before retiring.

John was 92 years of age and he and Noreen were married 66 years.

Noreen's address is:

7, Eucalyptus Court, Capalaba-4157, Queensland, Australia.

Death of a Field Engineer & FEP Instructor

Posted by dlucier at Tuesday, Feb-19-2013 05:07 PM

Denise J. Palumbo, 62, at rest Wednesday February 13, 2013. Denise was born in Schenectady, and lived most of her life in Rotterdam. She was a graduate of Mohonasen High School and Oswego College.

She was employed by General Electric Power Turbine Division for 29 years, retiring as a technical instructor. Denise was a member of the Adirondack Triumph Association and the Hudson Mohawk Weavers Guild. Her favorite hobby was restoring, driving and collecting vintage British cars. Denise is the beloved daughter of Marie Palumbo and the late Stephen Palumbo; she is also survived by her beloved life partner, Bernadine Peterson; beloved son, Stephen Palumbo; beloved sister, Joanne M. (Rich) Reynolds- Wagner; and a nephew, John Reynolds. Denise is also survived by aunts, an uncle and cousins.

Calling hours will be held Sunday, February 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home, 1605 Helderberg Avenue, Rotterdam. All are invited to a Mass of Christian Burial to be held Monday, 11 a.m. at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, 812 Union St., Schenectady. Those in attendance may follow in procession to Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Niskayuna, where Denise will be buried.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Denise's name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 5 Computer Drive West, Suite 100, Albany, NY 12205
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