Melody Shangin is an electrical engineer for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in Alaska. She works to maintain and upgrade electrical systems on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, the pipeline that transports crude oil 800 miles from the North Slope of Alaska. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You – Engineering Your World – Melody Shangin
This is Prudhoe Bay, the biggest oil field in North America.
MELODY SHANGIN (Electrical Engineer):
I'm Melody Shangin. I am an electrical engineer. Behind me is the 48-inch pipeline and we are at milepost 452 of 800 miles.
I am a lifelong Alaskan. I grew up here in the state of Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. I grew up in a community of 100 people. My mom was my teacher's assistant. My uncle was my teacher. So it was, yeah, small.
I actually worked part-time throughout the school year my final year in college for Alyeska. And after I graduated, I was fortunate enough that they had an entry-level position that I applied for. Oil is a big piece of Alaska's legacy. And so being able to be a part of a company that operates and maintains it is great.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System receives oil from our producers in Prudhoe Bay, which is on northern Alaska. It travels 800 miles through Alaska to our southern port of Valdez. I don't know how many people can say that their office is 800 miles long.
Alyeska's been pumping oil since 1977. We have had our 41st anniversary this year. I work in our engineering programs group working mainly on electronics, security systems, and communication systems. And with that, we have opportunities to upgrade equipment and so that's one great thing that we get to do here. I've touched it all.
We are located here in Fairbanks, Alaska. We are on the right of way, which is the piece of land that the 48-inch pipeline transverses through. I spend probably one to two days a month out in the field to travel and drive the pipeline, or drive to pump stations. I do site visits to understand the equipment. I've also been out there for commissioning work where we're turning equipment on and getting it started up.
Engineers we’re creative by being able to troubleshoot, to bring our technical expertise on understanding solutions and providing alternatives and understanding the big picture as well as the small picture. When they first engineered this, it was brand new. Nobody's done this before. So being able to be a part of a legacy that has such a great engineering history, I think that's just amazing.
In 2015, high school students from Houston, Mississippi, made their way across 1,736 miles of Australian outback in “Sundancer,” a 16-foot-long solar car outfitted with 816 solar cells.
Looking at it next to more highly funded solar cars competing in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, one would think it wouldn’t have a chance. The team fielded the youngest competitors in the 30-year history of the race, from Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, to Adelaide in the south. But “Sundancer” won its vehicle class while setting a record for most miles raced by a high school team in a single day when she traveled 252 miles.
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