Ice storms and hurricanes are excellent teachers, according to Mike Good, senior project manager at Stanley Consultants. In truth, however, Good is the excellent teacher who sometimes uses these disasters as teaching tools.
“A designer with a little bit of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ in him can detect and learn a lot from storm damage that can be put to good use in developing utility design and construction standards and material specifications,” Good said.
Good combines classroom instruction with actual field training in line with Stanley Consultants’ history. After Hurricane Wilma devastated southeast Florida, Good trained a group of 15 Stanley Consultants transportation engineers, roadway inspectors, and clerical staff to inspect electric service drops and document required repair work. They spent half a day in the classroom learning what a service drop was and what types of “tree-induced” failures modes to expect. They spent the other half of the day walking alleys until everyone knew what to look for.
“If the damage was on the customer’s side of the service point we let the customer know they needed to find an electrician,” Good said. “That gave the customer a chance to get his work done by the time his neighbors’ lights were on.”
Stanley Consultants does the same for clients’ staff. When staking distribution lines, the utility will provide one-half of a two-man staking crew. When the project is complete, the utility has a trained line staker. Stanley Consultants is an international engineering, construction, and environmental engineering services company with its headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa.
“Sometimes we ‘train’ ourselves out of future work,” Good said. “However, it usually results in more work in the future, not less.”
Good has 31 years of professional electrical engineering experience to bring to his teaching roles. It has all been with Stanley Consultants and includes transmission and distribution line design, system studies, field inventories, and construction management. He has instructed short courses on topics including “Distribution Line Design” and “Understanding the National Electrical Safety Code.” He has delivered technical presentations at numerous electric association conferences.
Right now, Good is training an Iraqi engineer who is also a member of Stanley Consultants. Nuha Al-Amil joined the Stanley Consultants team in Baghdad when the company provided master planning services for the reconstruction of Iraq. During that time, Al-Amil wore several hats for Stanley Consultants. She provided local liaison, translation, and construction inspection services. Along with five other Iraqi engineers, she became a permanent employee of Stanley Consultants and moved from Iraq to work in the firm’s Denver office in late 2007.
Good is training Al-Amil to develop distribution line design and staking manuals using Stanley Consultants’ LineStake software. In the last year, she has gained staking experience in Colorado, North Dakota, and Iowa, while helping stake several miles of ice-storm reconstruction.
Good challenges designers to know the reason behind a utility practice. “’We’ve always done it that way’ is not an acceptable reason. Line design is part science and part art, with a lot of experience thrown in,” he said.
Good’s 30 years of experience lets him bring real-life project examples to the classroom and makes it easier and more interesting to teach and more fun to learn. He originally decided to become an engineer in high school.
“When I was a freshman in high school, I built a Heath Kit stereo amplifier. After that, becoming an electrical engineer was a foregone conclusion,” Good said.
He earned his B.S.E.E. degree from Purdue University and is now a licensed professional engineer in nine states and a member of several professional organizations. He enjoys “being needed,” he said. “This country urgently needs to build transmission facilities. We are going to be very busy helping utilities catch up with design and construction of new transmission lines.”
In his spare time, he coaches girls’ softball, which lets him stay involved in his two daughters’ lives. “Coaching youth sports is a real treat. The kids not only enjoy playing the game, they are highly motivated to learn and improve their skills. Whether it is a recreational league or a competitive travel league, watching the girls progress over the course of a year is very satisfying.”