T&D World Magazine

Barry Owens: GITA Guru

Barry Owens has presented three sessions at GITA’s Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference in the past and will again show up to teach “Simplifying Underground Connectivity & Minimizing Restoration Time” at the 2009 conference, April 21, at the Tampa Convention Center.

As manager of GIS and Drafting Services at SECO Energy, Owens has found that his company’s membership in the GITA organization has provided him with the opportunity to meet other talented and successful utility personnel from around the world. “GIS is an exciting discipline as maps provide information that written language cannot,” Owens said. “The long-term relationships that have been established with GITA have helped our organization succeed at things we were not so good at.”

SECO Energy is one of the largest electric distribution cooperatives in the nation, serving homes and businesses in seven counties of Central Florida. Owens has worked with the utility since 1997. He leads the GIS team in accomplishing the goals and objectives the organization has established, including ass business-related functions that involve GIS-related information and integration.

With more than 21 years of GIS experience in the utility industry, Owens brings knowledge of the technology and its benefits to his courses. The session he will present at GITA, “Simplifying Underground Connectivity,” will cover the benefits that result from underground vs. overhead facilities, and the design issues that need to be addressed to achieve those advantages. “Our method of underground connectivity provides a safe working practice for establishing underground connectivity and exceeds the National Electrical Safety Code recommendations,” Owens said. “Implementing a process like this enables our organization to exceed customer expectations by minimizing outage restoration times. The course will allow attendees the opportunity to see how one utility’s methodology of underground labeling can enhance overall reliability and operations.”

Owens not only has GIS experience, but he also started teaching back in college. He taught track at the junior high level for five years. “This experience taught me that no matter what you are trying to accomplish, there is nothing more powerful than passion, enthusiasm and hard work to fuel the fire that inspires others to make things happen.”

Owens encourages students to seek out a mentor that they would most like to model themselves after. As students begin their careers, “there will be many challenges,” he said. “Having an experienced, trustworthy mentor to consult with is extremely valuable.”

Owens could be good mentor himself after having assisted with three major utility conversion projects, been a project manager of a four-year field inventory project, and recommended and managed the successful implementation of an integrated solution based on GE Smallworld, Design Manager, PowerOn and Internet Application Server.

His first experience with computers was in a beginners’ AutoCAD course in his last semester of college as an undergrad. “Being able to create meaningful designs on a computer was fascinating,” Owens said. “I realized at that point that this technology would play a significant role in many industries as the technology evolves and matures.”

He earned a B.S. and M.S. in industrial technology at the University of North Dakota. After graduating he worked for an architectural firm for a several years as a CAD Technologist and then as a GIS Technologist for nine years at an electric cooperative in North Dakota. In 1997, he joined SECO Energy located in Central Florida. “SECO Energy is dedicated and committed to improving processes by investing in technology. This allows our organization to flourish and develop solutions that effectively deal with opportunities that exist,” he said.

When he is not managing GIS and drafting services, Owens enjoys landscaping and reading books “that contain methods for improving processes and the success of people.”

Simplifying Underground Connectivity & Minimizing Restoration Time is scheduled for Tuesday, April 22, 11:15 a.m. to noon in Room 15 of the Tampa Convention Center. The Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference will run from April 19-22.

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