NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                APRIL 2013

How to Cope with Retirement of Experienced Power Plant Environmental Engineers

There is great concern about the large numbers of power plant environmental engineers who will retire in the next few years. The concern is that much of their knowledge will be lost and it will be difficult to maintain or improve the quality of environmental decision making. McIlvaine Company says that the answer to this question is the use of digital technology and organization to provide the successors with knowledge which would otherwise be lost.  Power Plant Air Quality Decisions, published by the McIlvaine Company, is a way to capture and make this knowledge easily available. (

Three percent of the engineers at power plants who focus on environmental issues retire each year. The percentage of expert knowledge which is retiring is closer to 10 percent. The reason is that the average career in the environmental specialty is 20 years. The individual usually spends a portion of his career in other technologies before becoming specialized. From this much smaller pool, the most knowledgeable are usually the ones closest to retirement.

The challenge is to make sure that the younger engineers assimilate the knowledge of those who will retire and to ensure that there is a minimal loss of accumulated knowledge.  To do this the following steps must be taken:

  • Make sure that knowledge gathered is knowledge maintained
  • Organize a system for retrieval of this information
  • Create methods to convert information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom.

The digital tools which are available are powerful and invaluable but need to be structured.  Google tends to declassify, whereas what is most valuable is decisive classification of options. YouTube and recorded webinars are invaluable. The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is even more relevant when process flow diagrams and sequential displays provide easily understood visuals. The challenge is to generate the comprehensive coverage of the environmental subjects and to keep the data current.

Another valuable effort is to encourage the retiring engineers to become niche experts in a narrow specialty.  Many retirees welcome the opportunity to provide advice. Focus on a narrow subject allows them to retain or become as knowledgeable as anyone in the world in a specific niche.

Power Plant Air Quality Decisions provides the organized systems and the use of the latest digital technology to compensate for the loss of the retiring environmental engineers. For more information on this service, click on: