When David Sciarretta came to Virginia Tech in 1995, he says he couldn’t have imagined the success he would enjoy in his job at the university’s Central Steam Plant

A mixed fuel, moderately high pressure steam generating facility, the plant contains five boilers with superheaters, rated at 80,000 to 100,000 pounds of steam per hour, which produce steam at 600 psig and 825 degrees Fahrenheit. This high pressure, superheated steam output is matched to a 6,250 kilowatt, 12,470 volt steam turbine powered generator, which was brought online in 1975.

The operation of the Central Steam Plant's complex steam turbine requires considerable knowledge of the system, and one wrong move can destroy the generator. This turbine generator reduces the amount of electricity that must be purchased from outside sources, saves Virginia Tech as much as $1.5 million a year, and helps reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.

“David consistently demonstrates considerable skill in the performance of his duties, especially in regards to the operation of the plant’s turbine generator, which is central to the operation of the Power Plant,” said John Beach, director of utilities and strategic initiatives.

“In an operation as complex as our Power Plant, many seemingly small components must each operate well in order to ensure successful operation of the entire plant,” said Beach. “A sound preventative maintenance program is absolutely essential. Literally thousands of bearings must be greased. Coal grates in boilers need to be oiled every shift during the winter. Trends for excessive vibration levels in plant equipment must be detected. In order for preventative maintenance data to be utilized, it needs to be recorded in an organized format. David is the employee on his shift that sees that this important duty is performed, and he completes the task in an exemplary fashion.”

Since he began working at the Virginia Tech Central Steam Plant 18 years ago, Sciarretta has worked his way up from an assistant operator, to turbine operator, to lead plant operator.  In addition to serving as relief shift supervisor, one of his primary responsibilities is to coordinate the entering of preventative maintenance and work order data into the Facilities Services Computerized Maintenance System.

Sciarretta has also served the plant by accepting the undertaking of additional duties, such as learning and generating Central Steam Plant Reports.  He came into the plant early and left late to figure the system out and be able to generate the reports as needed.

He has always taken great pride in his work, providing outstanding service to the university, according to Billy Dudding, utilities maintenance manager. “He is extremely dependable and goes above and beyond his duties to ensure the university’s needs are met on a daily basis.”

Sciaretta also takes it upon himself to aid in the training of new employees. His direction and instruction to a new employee is very thorough and proficient which helps the new employee grasp the plant's processes and gives them an understanding of what the operation of the plant pertains to.

“He has always performed his duties to the highest level of dependability, and sometimes under extreme pressure,” said Dudding. “He is also known as the go to person when it comes to coordinating maintenance projects with plant operations.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Share this story