Electronics Technology grad gets hands-on experience at BP terminal
Ever since he was a young boy, recent Athens Technical College graduate Perry Hardy, now 19, has gotten a charge out of electronics. After completing his associate’s degree in Electronics Technology at the college, he’s now getting hands-on experience in the field through a paid internship with British Petroleum’s BP Products North America pipeline terminal in Doraville.
“I’ve always liked electronics,” Mr. Hardy said in a phone interview recently. “I was homeschooled, so I never had a tech club to join. During my high school years, my goal was to learn about technology and how it worked. I was always interested in electronics and always thought I could have a career in it.”
When he graduated from the high school level three years ago at age 16, he was ready to attend Athens Technical College and learn about electricity with a desire of getting a good job in the electronics field. He enrolled in the Electronics Technology program at the college a little over two years ago. He also studied basic computer operation, networking and hardware, and as a hobby he works with a software program called Pinnacle Studio 15 to record and edit videos on his computer.
Earlier this year, BP contacted Athens Technical College’s Electronics Technology program Chair Ken Roberts to ask if Dr. Roberts had any students who might want to intern with the company during the summer.
“They asked me to send students in electronics technology who understood electronic control valves and valve actuators, who had computer knowledge and troubleshooting and maintenance capabilities for the oil and gas industry,” Dr. Roberts said. “Also there was a requirement of maintaining a 3.0 GPA in all core classes.”
Hardy, a Commerce resident, was one of the college students who submitted an essay explaining why his talents would make a good fit for that BP internship.
“I explained why they should pick me,” Mr. Hardy said. “I told them what I had learned, my background with mechanical equipment, and my abilities to learn new processes easily and work with different people.”
His written response apparently caught the attention of the BP human resource personnel, because they called him for a phone interview, during which he expounded on his computer skills.
“One thing that impressed them early on was my ability with the computer,” he said. “They use Microsoft, so when I proved proficient on that software, that helped me stand out.”
Mr. Hardy was one of three people whom BP called back for an on-site interview with a panel of BP staff members at the end of April. He began work May 30 on an internship that lasted through August. At that point Mr. Hardy had been considering taking classes at the University of Georgia or Gainesville State College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering, but when he found out that his credits weren’t enough to transfer to UGA, it was too late to register with Gainesville State. When his employer found out that he would miss enrolling in fall semester, they extended his internship through Christmas. He has enrolled for spring semester with Gainesville State College.
The stint at BP’s Doraville site has provided a great learning experience that he has “really enjoyed,” Mr. Hardy said. His computer knowledge has enabled him to help out with administrative work involving record keeping and tracking fuel shipments. Mr. Hardy’s duties include helping operate the equipment to run tests, and to ensure the different fuels are loaded in the proper containers. He also handles preventive maintenance duties on the equipment.
Being able to watch terminal technicians troubleshoot, and to participate himself on jobs like replacing valves and circuit boards, Mr. Hardy was able to experience what someone with an associate’s degree like his would do. But often, the company would contract with engineers to take on some of the jobs needed at the terminal, and Mr. Hardy was intrigued by how engineers interacted with the techs whose skills deal mostly with the mechanical aspects of equipment.
“It got me leaning more toward engineering than I had before,” Mr. Hardy said. “Seeing it in the workforce, it’s made me want to learn more about how it’s done.”
“The internship with British Petroleum is a great local opportunity for our students to get hands-on experience with computer controlled industrial equipment and monitoring devices that are responsive to demands by the petroleum industry,” said Dr. Roberts. “BP Pipelines, U.S. delivers multi-grade fuels to many customers in the Southeast area through their Doraville location where our intern is presently working. The student will also be exposed to an ever-changing environment where logistics are imperative. Transportation lines for fuel are intersecting at this site and that requires monitoring of pipelines, fuel-tank transportation, railroad freight and storage tank levels and flow rate. Logistics management and record-keeping through the use of computers are some of the many learning opportunities that the internship will bring to a student, along with his technical expertise in electronic instrumentation. “