David Havard: ‘Get Out and Experience the Lines’

July 7, 2011
David Havard teaches courses that show that engineering contains a certain art and is not entirely a science.

David Havard teaches courses that show that engineering contains a certain art and is not entirely a science. As president of Havard Engineering, he has been conducting open and in-house training courses for utility staff for more than 10 years. His courses, also offered in Canadian cities twice a year, focus on actual events.

“All too often the students’ range does not extend far beyond their computer screens. I encourage them to get out and experience the lines,” Havard said. ”I think it is very important to understand the physical concepts behind the behavior of transmission lines, also that there are differences between what is actually installed and what is written in the office records. Reliance on computers and software is too pervasive, and thought to be too exact.”

He said that many new engineers all too often stay in their offices and do not get out to the field to see what is going on. So Havard peppers his courses with videos showing examples of the way conductors, insulator strings and structures move, usually due to wind action.

Havard, with his associate, Dr. Samy Krishnasamy, offer courses that cover assessment of aged lines: from foundations, towers, hardware, and insulators to conductors. They include examples of upgrading of old lines and cover both steel and wood structures. Some tailored courses have been given in-house in various countries at the request of the utility.

The next workshop, Overhead Power Line Asset Management – Assessment, Upgrading and Life Extension, will be in Vancouver on Oct. 17 and 18. The lectures are complemented by videos illustrating many of the techniques on assessment and upgrading used in major electrical utilities. A full set of handouts or a CD of the presentations will be provided to all course registrants. These workshops are particularly useful for new staff members, staff who have been reassigned to responsibilities related to overhead power lines, or staff with electrical backgrounds, who have acquired responsibility for civil, structural and mechanical aspects of overhead lines.

“Very often I find that the engineering grads who populate our design offices have electrical engineering degrees, yet the transmission systems require civil and mechanical engineering expertise as well,” Havard said. “We provide a bridge over that gap.”

Havard has more than 50 years of experience solving the mechanical and civil engineering problems of power delivery systems. He started his career path in research at Ontario Hydro, after earning a bachelors’ degree in mechanical engineering in England.

“I had a supportive manager who encouraged me to pursue further education on a part-time basis, and my project on fatigue failures of underground lead cable sheaths at Ontario Hydro led to studies of metal fatigue for higher degrees,” Havard said. “A continuing need for solutions to various vibration problems kept me focused on a technical career path until I left as part of the company downsizing in 1993.”

Not being old enough to retire, he and his wife Jana, started their own company, Havard Engineering Inc., and continued working on similar problems. They also added the educational aspects in the form of the courses they now offer.

Havard is a long-time active member of IEEE, CEA and CIGRE, and he encourages students to get involved in these industry associations. “There is a wealth of valuable information out there, and the access to this is through meetings of such groups as IEEE and CIGRÉ. I encourage them to try to get to those meetings to learn from their peers. Also they need to know who can help them, and to understand that they cannot expect to have all the answers themselves. I do see the reinvention of the wheel so many times these days.”

With “very few useless meetings and little commuting,” Havard enjoys having his own company. Always a leader, he stays in touch with former colleagues by running a monthly group luncheon meeting of retired Ontario Hydro staff where they try to host speakers on technical and economic issues.

He is also an active table tennis player. He has established what is now a large (150-member) club and a local competitive league involving 40 teams. He enjoys outdoors as well; he and his wife are keen gardeners and participate in a local horticultural society.

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