Carolina People is a new feature in each issue of the Gazette that asks UNC-Chapel Hill employees five questions about the work they do for the University. Terry Sidberry is assistant control room operator at the Cogeneration Facility and Steam Plant in Energy Services. Terry was featured in the December 2017 issue of the Gazette for tirelessly working to keep UNC-Chapel Hill running.
What’s a typical day like in your job?
We work 12-hour rotating shifts. I work 7 to 7. The shift begins with turnover from the previous crew. They tell us what the status of the equipment was for that particular day at turnover time and if they’ve done any changes. Then we check the equipment status ourselves. We have a job briefing from the shift supervisor for the day’s events. We resolve any issues that arise and maintain safe plant operations.
How does your job support Carolina’s mission?
We supply steam to all campus buildings including UNC Hospitals. The steam is used for heating hot water for dorms and supporting medical research in our buildings and the hospital.
What do you like most about your work?
I like the mechanical aspect, seeing how things operate: the burning of the fuel, then making steam and then making electricity. And working with the guys. You spend more time with these guys than you do your significant other. Twelve hours is a long time. It helps a lot when you like who you work with.
How did you get interested in energy services?
Upon graduating from Cape Fear Community College, a fellow graduate suggested that, since a Cogentrix power plant was being built in the area, both of us should apply for it. We did, and once I became employed, I found it very interesting. There was a lot to learn.
What’s one thing about your job that others might not know?
Working on Christmas is probably harder on the family than on the employee. I remember when my daughter was younger, I would wake her up before I went to work on Christmas Day, or, if I was working the night shift, I would wake her up as soon as I got home. The other departments are off, but for operations, nothing’s changed. There will be seven of us working on Christmas. It’s just another day, but fewer people and less traffic. Usually the day after, we’ll have Christmas dinner catered in. I’ll be working the next three Christmases.
Originally published in The Gazette, Dec. 20, 2017.