Bismarck State College’s many technical degrees are often touted as a path to a great career in two years or less. Identical twins, Steve and Michael Lannoye, leveraged their BSC degrees in Power Plant Technology as a foundation for four-year degrees. Both circled back to energy eventually – better prepared for the field.
As identical twins sometimes do, the Lannoye brothers had similar interests growing up, and took similar classes in school. When it was time for college, they both attended BSC, graduating with degrees in Power Plant Technology in 2005.
Steve then went on to Minnesota State University Moorhead where a 2+2 program allowed him to couple his technical degree with a business element. He graduated with a BS in Operations Management in 2008.
Following graduation he got married, moved home to Bismarck and worked at a local bank. His brother, who also had earned a four-year degree (in accounting), was at Basin Electric Power Cooperative by then and encouraged him to give the energy industry another shot.
After a short stint in an ethanol plant, Steve landed a job as a laborer at Antelope Valley Station in September 2014.
Laborers keep the plant site clean, caring for everything from bathrooms to floors. It was a significant adjustment going from a shirt-and-tie banking role to a laborer.
“Sometimes it was difficult. I asked myself ‘what am I doing?’ more than once, but I also knew that this wasn’t my end game.”
Steve became a coalman, and then an opportunity that combined his BSC education and his banking background arose. Basin had recently moved its trading function in-house and was looking for traders and schedulers.
“I toured the trade floor and was like, yeah, this is interesting and something I think I could do well.”
The trade floor at Basin is a miniature version of the New York or Tokyo Stock Exchange focused solely on energy commodities – oil, natural gas, coal, etc. Two tiers of stadium seating and desks with phones ringing off the hook are anchored by a back wall of screens tracking trends and commodity prices, showing maps and graphs.
Steve was hired as a real-time trader in May, finding and purchasing affordable energy from the grid for Basin cooperative members.
“I talk to control room operators a lot. When they tell us what’s going on, I have a good feel for what that means because of my [BSC] technical degree.” He says the economic principles learned at MSUM help as he searches for the best price. His time as a laborer also has proven valuable.
“The biggest thing on a real-time desk is communicating with plant operators. I have a good concept of general power plan ops. My colleagues appreciate that I know that, for instance, a tripped ID fan would take a plant down for a while.”
Steve recently completed his training on the trade floor, which included Basin-sponsored industry training courses at BSC, and he began working independently in August. His twin is finishing his apprenticeship in mechanical maintenance at the Leland Olds Station, which is Basin’s first power plant.
While their paths to the career they initially pursued meandered and detoured, Steve says both he and his brother are glad to be in energy and especially, at Basin.
“Basin’s a great company to work for. If you come in and want to work toward a specific kind of job, they’ll set up a track to get you there,” Steve says.
To learn more about BSC’s energy programs visit, bismarckstate. edu/energy. To learn more about careers at Basin visit bepc.com.