Greetings! Today, I will discuss the basic outlines of Starship engineering and Station engineering. Now what is an engineer, do you ask? Well, a Starfleet engineer is the fixer-upper of the Ship or Station. Whenever there is a problem, from a warp core breach to a burnt out food replicator, these "Miracle Workers" as Jim Kirk once called them are able to fix anything. They also find creative solutions to problems that are faced during a mission, such as creative ways of fighting off the borg.
The first thing you have to know about Engineers is that they can be found from any department, anywhere. Which means you can be one too even if you're stuck in a deadbeat job controlling waste management. For instance, take Geordi Laforge; an ex-helmsman, and Chief Miles O'Brien; a former Transporter chief, but now the Chief Engineer on Deep Space Nine.
There are different job specifications when an engineer is on a Starship or a Station. When on a Starship, the most important task an engineer must do is to preserve and stabilize the warp core. As Geordi Laforge once said, "If Starfleet made the Warp Core Obsolete we [Starship Engineers] would be out of a job!" For not preserving the warp core can lead to a certain number of things, from being stranded in an unknown sector of space for months to destroying a whole ship due to a warp core breach. On a starship, an engineer also has to be around for other propulsion needs and the personal needs of the crew.
However on a Space Station, it's a whole different kind of work atmosphere. On a Starfleet Station, there is no warp core to take care of, so that eliminates the most painful and grueling tasks in the business. The only propulsion you would have to master would be the occasional maneuvering thrusters. However, you must learn a whole set of new parameters that are extracurricular to the Starship Engineer. There are isolinear chips, holosuites, docking clamps etc. But the biggest difference on a Station is that everything on a station isn't Starfleet Standard issue. There's Klingon to read and Cardassian orders to punch in; it can be very confusing. But the men and women of Station mechanics are up to the task.
So here are a couple of things that can help you in your engineering career:
- The Chief Engineer (CENG) Is the head engineer. He or she gives assignments to the other Engineers (AENG). He or she also has the power to eject the core. Only the CENG and the CO have the power to eject the core.
-To eject the core, you must authorize it using your authorization code.
-If there is no Repair chief on the ship, the Engineering Staff must take care of all broken instruments and parts of the Starship.
-If there is no Science Officer onboard, the Engineering team can figure out scientific methods to solve problems. They are allowed to use astrometrics and the Science labs for these purposes.
-Engineers have to have knowledge of all different kinds of systems; from transporters to holodeck design. They are a "Jack of All Trades" so to speak.
-Engineers must do anything in their power to fix major problems, such as life support or weapons.
One final thing to mention is the exaggeration rule. This nifty rule, invented by Montgomery Scott (Scotty), states that if something takes 1 hour to fix, the Engineer reports to the Captain that it will take 2 hours, but he will try to cut it down to 1 hour. This makes the CO seem impressed with your engineering ability. Perhaps this was the reason why James T. Kirk called engineers "Miracle Workers." But now, you can be one of those miracle workers and solve mysterious problems, be popular on the ship for finally fixing the only holodeck, and most importantly, get promoted very quickly!
ELECTRO PLASMA SYSTEM (EPS)
Asst Engineer, USS Exodus, Omega Fleet
EPS is the Abbreviation for Electro Plasma System, the power distribution network used aboard Federation starships. Other cultures use similar systems in their ships. Plasma is diverted throughout the ship to supply the warp drive and other systems such as the Structural Integrity Field, Life Support, Computers, Shields or Weapons. The EPS conduit system stretches throughout a Starship in the walls, floors and ceilings. EPS Power can easily be cut off from any area of a Starship to conserve or reroute energy.
Both the Matter/Antimatter Reactor and Fusion Reactors generate EPS Power aboard Federation Starships. Unfortunately unlike Klingon and other non-Federation ships, Federation Ships do not have separate EPS systems coming from both Power Generation systems. Instead it is one loop connected to both. This has in the past caused severe problems for Federation Starships when one of the systems has failed and caused the other to go down with it. Great measures have been taken to limit this possible scenario though, and now it only occurs in older ships nearing the end of their Space Frame life, like the early Excelsior and Miranda Class ships. For the most part these safeguards are integrated into the various devices that regulate EPS power Flow through a ship.
Spaced throughout the EPS conduit system are power regulation controls called Boosters and Step Down units. Boosters are used to either help maintain or strengthen the power flow through the conduits or to increase power flow to especially energy hungry equipment. Step Down Units drop the Power flow so that equipment is not overloaded and so that power can be more efficiently distributed to areas with smaller power consumption needs. Most Modular Equipment such as Replicators and Gravity Plating, have the EPS Power regulators built into them to save on difficulty of replacement and installation.
Starship Power Systems
Asst Engineer, USS Exodus, Omega Fleet
The Warp core is the part of the warp drive in which power is generated through a controlled annihilation of matter and antimatter, also referred to as matter/anti-matter reaction chamber (M/ARC). The complete warp power generation system including the warp core, matter and anti-matter injectors and constriction elements, is called the matter/anti-matter reaction assembly (M/ARA).
Matter and anti-matter streams are combined in the Dilithium Crystal inside the warp core, resulting in a plasma stream. A failure of anti-matter containment is commonly referred to as warp core breach. In this case anti-matter can get in contact with matter, leading to a disastrous explosion that in almost every case destroys the ship. In case of containment failure the warp core can be brought to an emergency shutdown. If the shutdown does not work, it is possible to eject the whole M/ARA. The problem of containment seems to be especially severe in Galaxy Class ships, three of which have already been destroyed by warp core breaches, though they were supposed to have a lifetime of 100 years.
At either end of the Warp Core assembly are injectors. One for Matter and the other for Anti-matter. The Injectors use a combination of force fields of various types and mechanical pumps to inject the Matter and anti-matter into the warp core creating a stream. The stream is contained, guided, and accelerated as it proceeds down the Warp Core shaft by further Force Fields until it finally reaches the Dilithium Crystal matrix where the actual reaction occurs.
The Dilithium Crystal is an essential component of the warp drive. The crystal is used to focus and redirect the matter and anti-matter streams so that they collide and are converted to an electro plasma stream in a controlled mutual annihilation. Once the Electro Plasma is generated it is directed into the EPS conduit system. Dilithium is the only known element to be non-reactive to antimatter, however this resistance only occurs when the Crystals are subjected to a high frequency electromagnetic field in the megawatt range. The efficiency of the reaction inside the Crystal depends on its quality. While naturally occurring crystals had to be used in the 23rd century, mono-crystalline Dilithium can now be produced by means of epitaxy.
Starships are also equipped with Fusion Reactors. Fusion Reactors generate energy as a byproduct of a fusion reaction, usually employing hydrogen/deuterium that is fused to helium. The fusion reactor is used to power the impulse drive on most Federation Starships. The energized plasma generated inside the reactor is then accelerated, fed into a driver coil assembly and eventually exhausted, yielding the desired propulsive effect. The impulse reactor is also used as an auxiliary power source for other ship systems.