July 9, 2015

A Former Intern Checks In

This month I was very busy putting the finishing the touches on our first Piping System Fundamentals course in a distance learning format. Last fall we conducted a beta distance learning course with 30 volunteers, and the results were very positive. They liked the freedom of proceeding through the course at their pace, the ability to replay the videos if they had any questions, and the ability to test their knowledge with online quizzes and example problems.
After reviewing the course, we addressed all the concerns of the beta attendees. We also streamlined the process of course development, while integrating the quizzes into the material, and added a new lab feature so the attendees can run virtual fluid test loops using PIPE-FLO® fluid simulation software. The course started on July 7th and concludes on August 7th.
The quality of the course is a direct reflection of the dedication, hard work, and the attention to detail of the team that put the course together. I would like to send a thank you out to Morgan H, Lincoln H, and Alek B, the team that is responsible for making the magic happen. Alek is our current intern from South Puget Sound Community College and is doing a fantastic job in producing the course videos.
In a related event, I got a phone call from Jay M, an intern that worked for us in 2002. He was a mechanical engineering student at St. Martin’s College in Lacey, WA (now it’s a University). Jay graduated in June of 2002 and got a job with the Department of Defense at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
Jay asked if he could stop by with a fluids questions. I always like to catch up with our former interns, almost as much as talking about piping systems, so we set up an appointment. He is currently a nuclear test supervisor working on aircraft carriers. He is married, and they have a 2-year-old running around the house. As I showed him around the office, he had plenty of questions about our software development process, customer technical support, and our work with the pump manufacturers.
I then asked him about his job as a test supervisor and the work he was doing for the Navy. Since I was in the nuclear Navy many years ago, I was interested in finding out that they still have the same quality of training and attention to detail as when I was a nuke.
After the tour of our facilities, we started talking about his piping questions. It seems his father-in-law is building a geoduck hatchery in the southern Puget Sound. Geoducks are very large; edible saltwater clams native to the Pacific Northwest. To be successful, they hatch the geoduck eggs in a hatchery and then place the hatchlings in salt water marsh in the Puget Sound where they grow until harvested. Jay said they needed to design a piping system that pumps water from the sound, through a 3,000 ft pipeline to the hatchery located 180 ft above sea level. He knew about our PIPE-FLO® software, but as an intern entering pump curve data he never used the program.
In about 15 minutes, we were able to design his system and select a pump for the application. I then asked how the flow to the facility varies. He said the flow rate ranges from 100 gpm to 300 gpm based on the time of the year and the growing phase of the hatchlings. We then tried two pumps operating in parallel, one sized for 100 gpm and the second pump sized for 200 gpm. We were then able to see how the system operates under the various expected flow conditions. He then took a copy of his piping system model and was able to determine the pumping requirements for the pump supplier. Since his piping system model had fewer than five pipelines, the PIPE-FLO® demo can perform all the necessary calculations.
I then gave him the model and suggested he insert the pump performance data into the PIPE-FLO® model after the supplier makes the pump selection.
All-in-all it was a great day. I got to see how one of our former interns is making a difference, caught up on the US Navy Nuclear Power program, and then help his father-in-law design a piping system to meet his business needs while reducing the operating and capital costs.
Now it’s your turn, if you have any questions or comments, I would enjoy hearing from you.