People Who Really Work at NDT

This issue of the Penetrant Professor is slightly different than earlier issues. Taking a lead from ASNT’s publication “The NDT Technician” and it’s feature “Practitioner Profile”,
the professor thought it would be of interest to share an e-mail received from some one who is very into his profession of NDT practitioner. One reason for doing this is that
the general focus of the Penetrant Professor articles have been on inhouse tank applications for fluorescent penetrant. There is another story out there about penetrant and magnetic particle applications in the field, and we mean in the field under very tough conditions.

The Practitioner’s Story

“In the spring of 1977 I had to take another elective class in high school so I could graduate. I was not happy at the time but I “made the best of it” and took a welding class. I am so grateful I did because that put me on the path I have been on ever since. I studied welding metallurgy and GTA welding in college, joined the US Navy and went to HT “A”
school in San Francisco, went on WestPac, then the Navy sent me to Non-destructive testing of Metals school at 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego where I certified
across the board as an NDT Level II Inspector in VT,MT,PT,UT, and ET testing methods. I inspected welds on nuclear powered surface ships, submarines and at the Nuclear Power Training Unit near Idaho Falls,Idaho. The Navy sent me back to school and I certified in the Radiographic Testing method. I should have stayed in the Navy but I just
had a new born daughter and I did not want to be away from her or the rest of my family, so I got out of the Navy and worked for a small company doing mostly IR-192 RT of pipeline and compressor station welds in Montana and Wyoming. I have taken 10 ASNT NDT Level III exams and passed each one the first time. I am currently certified
ASNT NDT Level III in 5 methods, VT,MT,PT,UT and RT. I am also an AWS Certified Welding Inspector and OSHA 30 certified. I am a structural steel/ plate and pipe welder. I have worked as a welding inspector at oil refineries, coal fired power plants and all over the Bakken oil field.

We build crude oil pumping stations, crude oil rail car load out terminals and natural gas compressor stations so North Dakota can get rid of all (or most) of the flares at the well heads. I was recently performing some PT and MT inspections at night on some socket welds on the flare tower at one of our compressor stations. I was up pretty high in the JLG lift and I counted over 50 natural gas flares in a 360 degree circle from where I was. This was to the northeast of Watford City. Some of the flares are so loud they sound like a jet engine on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier like the one I was on as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. I am a retired Chief Petty Officer (HTC (SW)(AW)USNR.)

I am responsible for the hundreds of welds on each of these compressor stations. Everything from ½” socket welds up to 30” diameter pipe welds. I also perform almost all of the PT and MT inspections and I document those too. I assign RT numbers to all of the butt welded pipe welds so the RT company can radiograph them. In addition, I purchased my own ultrasonic testing machine and transducers so I can perform UT shear wave inspections on pipe welds prior to RT in case the welder is worried about his weld. So far, of all the welds I have shear wave inspected, when I called out a repair and the welder did what I asked, the weld passed RT. I am very busy but I love my job and working with my welders every day. All of our inspection material is ordered through and that material is Met-L-Chek. I have to have reliable NDT material here in the Bakken. It does not matter what the weather does (and it gets quite cold and windy out here!) everything has to work and work well.

On the rare occasion when I am home in Montana, I spend time with my wife and youngest daughter. I also love taking my red Corvette out for a road trip, and visiting my daughter that I am putting through college or visiting my sons. In my spare time I study math, science, physics and anything else I may be interested in. When I am not working on Sunday, I always go to church. Going to church and participating helps keep me grounded. I love classical music, opera, heavy metal, Linkin Park and Metallica. I have taken to heart a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger:“ You have to position yourself in such a way that no one else can compete with you.” That is so true and one of the guiding principles of my life. I am not sure, but I am reasonably certain I am the only Level III in 5 methods in the Bakken. (At least that is what I have been told.) I love it out here in the Bakken. Every day is an adventure. One never knows what one will see or experience. I live in my motor home in a huge RV park. I have weathered some pretty good storms and blizzards in it and some brutally cold temperatures.”


Eric Engen – NDT Practioner

We want to thank Eric for sharing his most interesting journey story. For those who are looking for more adventure in life, NDT could well be your passport to a whole world of never ending experiences