We don’t talk enough about the Electrical Engineering and Electrician professions on Planet Analog. My first job out of NYU in 1972 with a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering was with a company called Lord Electric. Mr. Juras hired me as an apprentice engineer (I later joined the Local 3 International Brotherhood of Electrical workers—the IBEW) I worked on a drafting board with blueprints and learned how power distribution worked in buildings. I was there a very short time and worked in the field for George Wintermuth, the Electrical Engineer in charge. We were in a trailer at the Lincoln Memorial Medical Center job site in the Bronx. This was an excellent opportunity for me to learn an important side of engineering.
This month is National Electrical Safety Month. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is the premier non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety at home and in the workplace and they publish some really great articles and tips to promote safety through education, awareness, and advocacy.
Safety is also a big part of design in engineering. This is true for electrical and electronics disciplines. I remember a course I took back in the 70’s with Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) that showed a large Power Circuit Breaker Box and how improper design of the box or improper specification of such a box by an electrician or electrical engineer could be deadly. They showed us a video of the main breaker switch in the box being mechanically opened via a long mechanical device from a safe distance.
The switch was opened and a huge fireball exploded from a tremendous arc due to the fact that the breaker switch was not correctly sized in the initial design or the box ratings for the breaker not being rated high enough for the voltage and current coursing through it. It was frightening and could have seriously burned or killed a person turning it off.
That image stayed with me through all my years, even today, when I work with electricity. We, as professionals, must all have great respect and a full understanding of the basics of electricity which are sometimes taken for granted. Mistakes happen, accidents can happen, but we must understand and be aware about such things as Arcs in a Circuit Breaker and so many other areas of importance to safety in our engineering or electrician profession.
Be safe out there my brother and sister Electricians and Electrical Engineers and have a happy National Electrical Safety Month as a constant reminder.