Operating Engineers are tradepeople who operate machinery. There are two main types of workers that share this title and trade union affiliation (
IUOE). The first group are workers who operate steam plants and boilers. They are often called stationary engineers but are known by other titles such as boiler operator, thermal technician and power engineer The other important group is a larger class of equipment operators who operate cranes, large excavation equipment and bulldozers and graders etc.
Stationary engineers are a member of a trade group which emerged in the
industrial revolution. The group includes railroad engineers and marine engineers. Famous peoplewho began their working lives in this trade include George Stephensonand Henry Ford.The early steam engines developed by Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen which drew water from mines and the industial steam engines perfected by James Wattand others employed theancestors of today's engineers. Railroad engineers operated early steam locomotives and continue to operate trains today. The traditions and structure of the engineer were developed to the greatest extent by marine engineers who worked in the engine rooms of the great ocean linersin the 19th and 20th century.
The use of the title "engineer" by these tradespeople has been challenged in court by today's university educated professional engineers (P. Eng.), however they have been unsuccessful to date. The job of today's engineer has been greatly changed by computers and automation as well as the replacement of steam engines on ships and trains. Workers have adapted to the challenges of the changing job market. The trade still remains a career choice that is vital to industry and transportation.
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