May 16, 2015

Great Unsung Americans: Conrad and The Steamplant

"I fear for the things that I cherish being threatened."

From Vimeo "Conrad Milster, Pratt Institute’s chief engineer, has worked in the Brooklyn power plant nearly his entire adult life.

Starting as a mechanic in 1958, he later became one of only four chief engineers in the plant’s 127-year history, taking over the official duties in 1965. He’s been there ever since. For the last six decades, Milster (now 79 years old) has lovingly maintained the nineteenth century steam engines that provide heat and hot water to Pratt’s campus. “We have our hands full,” says Milster. “If the plant stops in the winter, Pratt stops.” In addition, Conrad is the person behind the infamous “Pratt Cats,” responsible for the 12-14 felines that wander the campus and call the steam plant home.
An important figure in Pratt’s history, Milster has extended his impact on the Pratt community through a generous gift—the Phyllis and Conrad Milster Endowed Scholarship—that provides scholarships in perpetuity to students in Pratt’s Industrial Design program. The scholarship is named for Milster and his late wife, Phyllis, who passed away in 2011."

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 16, 2015 10:44 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I likes that Jet.

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 16, 2015 11:59 AM

Nothing is simple anymore. Nothing ever works. Nothing ever fits.
Everything's gotta be special. Standard is never good enough.
What doesn't break falls off, and what doesn't fall off catches fire.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 16, 2015 9:56 PM

He and his staff, along with the plant they preserve, are true living national treasures. As any competent navigator will tell you, "If you don't know where you've come from, you can't know where you are."

Posted by: Phil Jr. at May 17, 2015 5:53 AM

If the video won't play, click on the link to Vimeo in the lower right side. That will take you to the Vimeo page and the video will play. By the way, I am glad that I found a way to view it, fantastic story.

Posted by: Borch at May 17, 2015 6:03 AM

Conrad is representative of an entire generation of low visibility people, that work behind the scenes, and make it their business to see that the wheels keep turning. They're gradually moving along, and thanks to the cost saving course of eliminating apprentice training, there's a shortage of someone who actually knows how to make a functional replacement part for an obsolete piece of equipment.
BTW, Ghost, the small Jet's are nice. But loose the crappy toolpost. Get a Dorian or an Aloris. You'll thank yourself every time you turn it on.

Posted by: ed in texas at May 17, 2015 10:39 AM

Good video. That neighborhood was my last in NYC, nice place Pratt, but surrounded by to much craziness. Guys like Milster are the last of the Mohicans.

Posted by: Will at May 17, 2015 5:58 PM

That is freakin' awe inspiring, NINETEEN FIFTY EIGHT!

Hero is a word much cheapened by over/mis-use, yet this guy is livin' the life of one - unsung, unheralded, until now un-noticed. Since NINETEEN FIFTY EIGHT!

Pristine, yet ancient machinery, built with thread profiles obsolete long before NINETEEN FIFTY EIGHT yet still in productive use today. Incredible.

Gotta ask though - how did he cut the step in the piston ring?

Posted by: itor at May 17, 2015 9:07 PM