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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old March 22 2013, 09:14 PM   #1
LoneDragon
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When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

I thought he was just a transpoter technician in Next Generation. Did he go back to school before being assigned to DS9?

Edit: should be "an" not "and"
Why doesnt the edit function allow me to fix the title??

Last edited by LoneDragon; March 22 2013 at 09:15 PM. Reason: spelling/typing error
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Old March 22 2013, 09:31 PM   #2
Pavonis
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

O'Brien was probably trained as an engineer right after graduating from whatever "basic training" Starfleet non-coms undergo when they enlist. Though O'Brien's background is a bit murky, since he's been a tactical officer, a field soldier, and an engineer. I suppose Starfleet non-coms would be cross-trained in all those disciplines though.

O'Brien wasn't just a simple button pusher, though. As a transporter operator, he was also responsible for maintenance and repair of the transporters. As such, he was under LaForge's command. So, no, he didn't need to be re-trained before being assigned to DS9, since he was always an engineer.
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Old March 22 2013, 10:30 PM   #3
SchwEnt
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

It is kinda roundabout.

He was tactical officer. Then a transporter operator. Then a Chief Engineer. All over the place.
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Old March 22 2013, 11:19 PM   #4
indolover
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

Transporter technology utilises engineering principles. It figures in that sense.

Besides, he said in an episode that when he enlisted he studied engineering. It may also have been chance. Perhaps as a young enlisted man, the Cardassian war broke out and he had to learn to be a tactical officer and a soldier. As a related point, I'd bet Nog never thought he would be a soldier and kill Jem'Hadar when he signed up, but such is life.
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Old March 23 2013, 12:43 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

Besides, he said in an episode that when he enlisted he studied engineering.
I'm not familiar with that reference.

In rough in-universe chronological order:

* "Shadowplay" establishes that Miles escaped cello studies at the age of seventeen by "signing up for" Starfleet . That's probably different from enrolling in Starfleet Academy, as there's no evidence Miles ever went to the Academy.

* "Paradise" has Miles saying that "It wasn't till I got to the Cardassian front I found I had talents I never knew I had" and " I didn't know a transporter from a turbolift in those days" - until he had to rescue a landing party from Setlik III by repairing a field transporter. This appears to be the same incident he describes in "The Wounded", where Cardassian irregulars raided Setlik III and ambushed the landing party of USS Rutledge. O'Brien goes on in "Paradise" to say that after this incident, he became the Tactical Officer of said starship (a career move we already knew from "The Wounded") and began wearing gold.

* In "Realm of Fear", O'Brien says he has operated transporters for 22 years, so he must be counting from this incident at Setlik III, placing it at 2347. He doesn't necessarily mean he has been doing that constantly between 2347 and the episode, though.

* In "Tribunal", O'Brien says he was involved in a battle at Setlik III also in what adds up to 2362, and in "Empok Nor" he expands that he fought entire regiments of Cardassian regulars there. It thus seems that O'Brien did not immediately transform from foot soldier to engineer or transporter operator, but rather continued as a ground fighter of some sort (either in the role of Rutledge Tactical Officer, as he was still associated with that ship as per "Tribunal", or then in some subsequent role such as Security Chief or Marine Sergeant or whatnot).

* Then in 2363 (or '64, depending on how you count) comes "All Good Things..." where O'Brien, in red, comes aboard the E-D in an unknown role. Also, the time-traveling Picard encourages O'Brien to start doing engineering, at which point it is revealed that building of starship engine models was among O'Brien's childhood hobbies. Miles says that what Picard asks of him is not "his area of expertise", but he doesn't say he completely lacks engineering skills or training, so he may have acquired them at some point after Setlik III (either the 2347 or the 2362 fight). Then O'Brien gets sent to pilot the Battle Section still in his red uniform in the "Encounter at Farpoint" version of the same events.

* In "Lonely Among Us" O'Brien is wearing gold, possibly having become Transporter Chief already. He is seen maintaining order, or at least telling people where not to go, but that doesn't necessarily make him a Security officer by formal status. It's probably in his blood, though.

* The rest of TNG is spent in the Transporter Chief role.

* DS9 opens with O'Brien becoming Chief of Ops. In a usually cut scene, Picard says goodbye to him, and the two talk about nothing but the Chief's transporter role; no retraining or the like is mentioned.

* "A Man Alone" establishes that O'Brien's assignment on DS9 was a "promotion" even though we never see his actual rank change. It's also a promotion he will lose if he moves elsewhere. Apparently, then, this would be the first time O'Brien would have engineering leadership duties.

* "What You Leave Behind" has Molly O'Brien saying that daddy is going to teach at the Academy after the war. Whether that's true at the time, and whether that really happens after the war, we never quite learn.

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Old March 24 2013, 03:50 AM   #6
LoneDragon
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

Wow!!
You know your Trek!!
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Old March 25 2013, 07:14 PM   #7
Worf'sParmach
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

I think it works very much like job promotion does nowadays. He obviously had the skill set, but the only assignment available to him was Transportor Chief, especially because he was a non-com. He was probably able to get the DS9 gig because it was run down and in the middle of nowhere, so there wasn't much competition. I'm guessing having experience with Cardassians would also be benefit to him landing the job.

Or it could just be that TPTB wanted a familiar face on DS9 so viola! O'Brien is an engineer.

Heck, where did Geordi get his Enginering skills? Remember, he started out flying the ship like Sulu.
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Old March 26 2013, 03:48 PM   #8
Timo
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

Geordi was retroactively described as having impressed Picard with his engineering skills originally ("The Next Phase"). Perhaps "flying the ship" is make-work for people who can't get a real assignment, because all ships fly themselves anyway. Or more probably, starship pilots are picked from shuttlecraft pilot pool, and shuttle pilots are similar to today's truckers: expected to be capable of maintaining their vehicles.

the only assignment available to him was Transportor Chief, especially because he was a non-com.
This is the one thing that remains rather difficult to explain about Colm Meaney's constant rank identifier changes in the various shows. Dialogue basically agrees that he always was a noncom and never attended the Academy - so how did he become the Tactical Officer of the Rutledge?

I can understand that the position could carry a formal name that is unrelated to the exact nature or training of the person holding the position. But Tactical Officer is something of a bigwig on most of the starships we see - at least a Lieutenant on Kirk's and Picard's ships. Why would Captain Maxwell take a Marine Sergeant, no matter how accomplished or how many times the savior of Maxwell's own bacon, as his TO?

Sure, the Rutledge could have been a fairly small ship, and perhaps was stranded behind the lines far away from crew rotation if the Setlik III nastiness resulted in a military conflict of some scope. And the incident where O'Brien had to save a landing party might not have ended 100% well, meaning that top officers (typical landing party members) would be casualties. But still... We don't have a good reason to think that the big war with the Cardassians started in 2347 already, and we have a backstage reason to think that Maxwell's ship was at least as big as Kirk's, with plenty of commissioned officers to choose from.

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Old March 26 2013, 04:37 PM   #9
Ensign_Redshirt
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

Transporter chief is an engineering position.


I would assume that "lower ranking" personnel is always specialized in some way.

Just like a starship's Science department consists of astronomers, anthropologists, exo-biologists and so on, the Engineering crew has transporter technicians, warp field specialists etc. Only the department heads and maybe their deputies deal with all scientific or engineering matters in a general way. On the Enterprise-D, O'Brien he just wasn't serving as a department head, while on DS9 he was.
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Old March 27 2013, 08:04 AM   #10
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

Worf'sParmach wrote: View Post
I think it works very much like job promotion does nowadays. He obviously had the skill set, but the only assignment available to him was Transportor Chief, especially because he was a non-com. He was probably able to get the DS9 gig because it was run down and in the middle of nowhere, so there wasn't much competition. I'm guessing having experience with Cardassians would also be benefit to him landing the job.

Or it could just be that TPTB wanted a familiar face on DS9 so viola! O'Brien is an engineer.

Heck, where did Geordi get his Enginering skills? Remember, he started out flying the ship like Sulu.

Actually, if you look closely, there does seem to be a precedent (at least on the Enterprise) that the person at the helm/conn tends to have engineering skills. O'Brien started at Conn as did Geordi. The other notable person there was Wesley...who was an engineering genius. Its almost a foregone conclusion that had Wesley stayed in Starfleet, he would have ended up in Gold.
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Old March 27 2013, 12:52 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

It's a bit confusing to equate the first appearances of characters with "starting". In most cases, the characters have had long careers before we first meet them, and the details of those careers are later revealed in part or in whole.

OTOH, we never learned much about Sulu's past, but apparently there was nothing relating to engineering there; all we saw was a stint at astrophysics.

Incidentally, we did see a non-com navigator take the place of Lieutenant Ilia in ST:TMP, giving some precedent to the idea of noncoms handling jobs where the overwhelming majority of performers are commissioned officers. Transporter control is possibly another such field, but it's difficult to tell for sure: in TOS, plenty of people wore officer braid in the role, but those red coveralls and the lack of Ensign braid confused the issue - and in TNG, officer pips were common for transporter chiefs including O'Brien, but in O'Brien's case these were supposed to be a costuming error in retrospect.

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Old March 28 2013, 06:04 AM   #12
JessDD
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

^ That brings up a different point. We never really saw enlisted rank insignia in TNG (at least I don't reall ever seeing it), so how would determine rank among the enlisted personnel? Or just simply refer to them as "Crewman"?
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Old March 28 2013, 10:03 AM   #13
Timo
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

We do know that the specific term "Crewman 1st Class" still exists, as it was applied to Simon Tarses in "Drumhead". Tarses wore nothing on his collar or sleeves to differentiate himself from the supposed 2nd or 3rd Class Crewmen.

Possibly the insignia do exist but are for some reason optional? In late DS9, O'Brien wore a collar plate that gave his rank in very specific symbology: three chevrons and two stars. Supposedly, this would be the second Chief Petty Officer rank, with each star denoting a level in the three- or four-level hierarchy of CPOs; each chevron would dictate a level in the Petty Officer hierarchy. Yet in early DS9 and late TNG, all this was hidden from the audience, and all that could be observed was a "generic NCO identifier" in the form of a dark pip. Perhaps in like manner, Crewmen can have collar plates giving the exact Class, or then go generically with a clean collar.

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Old March 28 2013, 11:11 PM   #14
R. Star
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

TNG was using O'brien as a technical sidekick char long before DS9, even when the transporter wasn't directly involved. His whole use in TNG was really inconsistent, from his job to his rank, but DS9 effectively smoothed that over I suppose.
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Old March 29 2013, 12:01 AM   #15
hayesc0
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Re: When did Chief O'Brien become and engineer?

JessDD wrote: View Post
^ That brings up a different point. We never really saw enlisted rank insignia in TNG (at least I don't reall ever seeing it), so how would determine rank among the enlisted personnel? Or just simply refer to them as "Crewman"?
there was another transporter chief after obrien that had the hollow pip
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