Tdworld 15087 Captain Scott Tingle

NASA Captain to Be Featured Speaker at ASCE's ETS Conference

Sept. 12, 2018
The electric power industry can learn from an astronaut’s experiences

Imagine sitting on top of a rocket with enough power to escape Earth’s gravity. You are experiencing the ride of a lifetime, and it is not even remotely comparable to your favorite rollercoaster. On this ride, you escape gravity and experience the peacefulness of space while looking down at the blue marble we call home. Dream what it would be like to take a walk outside the space station with only a tether keeping you from floating off into oblivion. Fear what the reentry would be like.

The electric power industry can learn from an astronaut’s experiences, and attendees of the upcoming Electrical Transmission & Substation Structures (ETS) Conference will have a unique opportunity to do so. The Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) holds the ETS conference and exhibition every three years. The next ETS conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 4-8, 2018 (see

NASA’s Captain Scott D. Tingle will be the featured speaker for the opening plenary session on Monday, Nov. 5. Captain Tingle, whose aviator call sign is Maker, recently returned from a mission to the International Space Station; he was part of Expeditions 54-55. He launched aboard Soyuz 53S/MS-07 in December 2017 and landed in June 2018.

Maker is a mechanical engineer. In his keynote, Engineering a New Frontier – The Next Age of Space Exploration, he will share firsthand about his space travel experience and highlight the significance of our engineering community as we face our industry’s challenges and work to find solutions to build and strengthen critical infrastructure.

In addition to Maker’s keynote, there will be many opportunities to learn and network at the ETS Conference. On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 4, a preconference workshop will be held on all ASCE/SEI Standards and manuals of practice (MoPs). The chairs of each respective document will be covering the brief history, existing principles and upcoming changes to each of the ASCE standards and MoPs that directly impact the electric power delivery industry. Leading experts in the industry also will describe the upcoming changes to the wind and ice maps that will impact the design of overhead lines and substation structures. Of interest will be the new Design and Use of Wood Pole Structures for Electrical Transmission Lines MoP, which is currently being published by ASCE (it is scheduled to be published in time for the ETS Conference in November 2018). If you currently design overhead lines or substations and want to know what changes are coming soon to this industry, this is a must-attend event.

Sunday night will be the welcome reception in the exhibit hall, where more than 100 companies directly involved with the overhead line industry will be exhibiting. Additional receptions are on both Monday and Tuesday night, as well, creating many opportunities to network. The exhibit hall will be open throughout the week during breaks, lunches and the Tuesday night reception, as well.

The primary activity of the conference is, of course, the technical presentations. Of the hundreds of abstracts submitted, 35 were selected to write papers and be presented at the conference. In this supplement, four of the papers are highlighted. Be sure to attend the conference to get the full papers as well as to hear and see the presentations of those papers. This is a single-track conference, so you will have an opportunity to hear all the papers being presented. A poster session also is available during exhibit hours.

On Wednesday afternoon, a panel session will be held on Evolving the Grid: The Confluence of Regulation, Technology, Economics, Reliability, and Resilience. We are fortunate to have O.H. Dean Oskvig—former president and CEO of Black & Veatch Energy from 2006 to 2015 and a member of the Interconnection Board of Managers at PJM Interconnection—as the moderator of this panel. We will have a representative from the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a public utility commissioner, a consumer advocate and several utility executives on the panel.
The panelists will share their respective positions on how they each see the rapidly changing technologies, rapidly growing distributed energy resources, omnipresent economic demands, and how the growing public expectation to be constantly connected to reliable and economical electric power will inherently bring dramatic changes to the way our grid is designed, constructed and operated. This is sure to be a lively session that will stimulate much debate and discussion, so be sure and stay until the end of the conference to hear it.

The theme of this year’s ETS conference is Dedicated to Strengthening our Critical Infrastructure. We each have an important responsibility to society to provide a reliable and resilient electrical grid. This conference will equip you with the knowledge to do that better.

Many of us will never get to be an astronaut like Maker with cool call signs like Maverick, Goose or Iceman. Maybe we ought to start having our own industry call signs.

Otto J. “Towerman” Lynch is President and CEO of Power Line Systems. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, IEEE and National Electrical Safety Code. He is a registered professional engineer.

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