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Welcome to TurbineCowboy.com

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NOTICE: TC.COM HAS ABSOLUTELY NO AFFILIATION WITH GENERAL ELECTRIC! We have been asked by GE's crack staff of "website watchdogs" to disavow any association with the Company. Let there be no doubt that TC.com is solely the innovation of two fun-loving, FEP grads who want to share their PRIDE in the career of field engineering. GE had nothing to do with the website www.turbinecowboy.com, nor would these Turbine Cowboys have it any other way.

If you are an FEP graduate, please register now. If not, please visit the TC.com website and ENJOY the experience!

Click open the members folder above to see 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 who still owes you rent $$$ from your FEP days! LOL :-)

DO YOU HAVE YOUR FEP CLASS PICTURE?

If so, please scan it an upload it. To upload it, logon and go to FEP Group Photo

After you register, please 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.

If you want to be contacted by other FEPs, please leave your email address and phone.

Why was the Turbine Cowboy website created?

This site was created to salute GE-trained field engineers and their work. We invite graduates of both mechanical and electrical Field Engineering Programs (FEP) to visit the site and contribute their stories and photos. As you have experienced, when you get a few field engineers together, the tall tales (embellished, for sure) start to flow. The laughs soon follow. Other listeners (like wives, girlfriends or both) have a hard time relating to the humor of this career. It always generates some weird looks too!

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

This website is the brainchild of Dave Lucier and Charlie Pond. Most of the FEP grads in 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 and gas turbine training. Charlie was an FEP grad in (1978), who later became an instructor (1980-85). Both claim that the most rewarding job they ever had was working at the FEDC.

This site is linked to our company called simply Pond And Lucier. We are also known as PAL Engineering in the industry. Please visit www.pondlucier.com and see what Dave and Charlie have been up to in recent years. We currently have NINE grads of the FEP on the staff!

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?). Click open the song and enjoy! Turbine Cowboy Rides again

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 GE TURBINES and generators. "Turbine Cowboy" by Dennis Ledbetter is available for listening in MP3 , Windows Media and Real Audio formats.

Send an email to Dennis at turbcowboy@cox.net to purchase copies of all his other songs including the "flip side" of this record IF YOU DRIVE ME TO DRINKIN' (I"ll buy the gas).

To hear samples of more songs, go to the menu on the left and open: Turbine Cowboy - Dennis Ledbetter (FEP-1978). Then scroll down to the 30-second samples of Ledbetter's other creations at the bottom.

Origins of the GE 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 FEP-Mechanical 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. The program was expanded to 18 weeks.

This Mechanical FEP included in the 1970s - 1980s:

  • Orientation
  • 4 weeks Mechanical Principles
  • 2 weeks Electrical Fundamentals
  • 6 weeks Gas Turbine Technology
  • 6 weeks Steam Turbine Technology

    In the late 1970s, the FEDC building was expanded, allowing the FEP-Electrical to move into a 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 and 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 training 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, Johnny Turner 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 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 and Louise Halle. 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 hydraulics, was 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.

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 noticibly dropped from the Center's name. This change was done because management training was now being done in the facility, and Management wanted a more encompassing 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 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. It is believed 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?"

In closing, the Field Engineering Program (FEP) began in the mid-1960s and has enjoyed almost a 40-year life. The FEDC name is no more. Will anyone honor the four decades of the program in the year 2006, we wonder? 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 Friday, Apr-29-2005 11:35 AM

Johnny Turner

Posted by jhovorka at Thursday, Dec-09-2004 05:17 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.

George Kennedy

Posted by dlucier at Thursday, Dec-09-2004 09:41 PM
Another guy who instructed often at the **FEP** was George Kennedy. Known as Mr. Fuel Regulator, George taught often at gas turbine controls schools. He was also the GETSCO training coordinator for **FEP** students sponsored by the international office. In addition, he was a coordinator of the Gas Turbine Start-up Program when it was based in the product department. George died about five years ago.

Walter H. Wintergerst

Posted by dlucier at Monday, Jan-03-2005 09:37 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.

Ralph McCreadie

Posted by dlucier at Wednesday, Jan-05-2005 11:53 PM
Ralph was one of the original instructors on the Field Engineering Program (FEP) staff. He began when the FEP was being run on the 5th floor of Bldg. 28 at the main plant. When the program moved to Balltown Road at the new FEDC, Ralph continued on the staff. Re remained at the Center teaching into the late 1980s when he retired.

Many new Ralph as being instrumental in instituting a teaching method called "Criterion Referenced Instruction." CRI taught the FEP students how to find information in the GE instruction manuals in essentially a "self-taught" method. The MS7001E installation manuals were used for this model.

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

Posted by dlucier at Wednesday, Feb-02-2005 08:40 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**

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