BenchMark is an award-winning, quarterly, general interest engineering magazine that covers a broad range of trends, topics and engineering disciplines.

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Evolving cybersecurity standards present a moving target to utilities seeking to safeguard critical assets. Since the electrical grid was designed, it has changed to accommodate digital technologies, Internet-connected devices and smart computer networks. With each addition, the nation's critical infrastructure grows more vulnerable. Plus: Superstorm Sandy follow-up; our railroad jack of all trades; shipping logistics for a 532,000-pound surge drum; communications strategies for big projects; city infrastructure planning assistance.

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Articles In This Issue

In-House News: Problem Solved

Engineers are problem solvers. Part of the job of the problem solver is to get the right minds on the job. At Burns & McDonnell, sometimes that means reaching out to academic partners who can bring specialized capabilities to a project that's advancing the practice of environmental engineering.

Nuclear Training Site Gets a Facilities Boost

In the mid-1950s, the U.S. Navy's first nuclear power training program was established to instruct sailors how to operate submarines with nuclear reactors on board. In the decades since, the Navy has made significant advancements in the development of the training program, and its student base has expanded.

Building a Better Place for VA Dementia Patients

Renovations to the Colmery-O'Neil Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) will make accommodations more comfortable for its residents living with dementia and Alzheimer's disease and provide greater convenience for employees.

Onward: Communications Strategies Build Public Support for Projects on the Move

No matter what the stage or what the project — a new road, power plant, hospital or transmission line — the objective is the same: Move forward. Having a well-planned communications strategy in place from the onset can help keep a project on the right track.

PublicWay Saves the Day

You see it all too often. A street gets repaved as part of routine maintenance, and a few weeks later it gets torn up again for a utility project. It's frustrating for residents, businesses and public sector officials. In response to this need, Burns & McDonnell has developed PublicWay™, a web-based tool that displays information from municipal systems and places it into a customizable, searchable Google Earth platform.

A Changing Landscape

Cybersecurity is a complex and critical challenge for utilities, transmission and generation operators, and others with a stake in the U.S. power industry. Addressing both cyberthreats and regulatory compliance requires a broad approach that also factors in physical and operational security procedures

Protecting the Grid

The fundamental problem facing the U.S. power industry is simple. It does what it was designed to do: generate and distribute electric power. For most of the industry's history, that was enough. But the grid has evolved. Its electrical and mechanical systems have been replaced with digital technologies, Internet-connected devices and smart computer networks that allow remote access to critical systems. With each addition, the grid grows more vulnerable.

Beyond Cybersecurity

The blackout of August 2003 pointed out a glaring flaw in the nation's electric reliability standards: There were none. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) has since changed all that.

Online Extra: Presidential Order 13636

In the next decade, there's a 1-in-10 chance that our nation's water supply, power grid, transportation system or other critical infrastructure will be hit by a cyberattack, causing a major disruption in service, according to estimates from the World Economic Forum. The question: Will the country be ready?

Online Extra: More on NERC

For the past three years, energy giant Pacific Gas & Electric on the West Coast, Duke Energy on the East Coast, and hundreds of utilities in between have conducted aerial surveys of thousands of miles of their 100-kV and greater transmission lines.

Technical Q&A: Chemical Storage Safety

Owners of plants that store and use hazardous materials face a maze of regulatory and legal requirements, and often turn to professionals for help.

How It Works: Energy Logistics

Keeping on top of natural gas prices is only one component of Burns & McDonnell's energy logistics service. It provides market insight and intelligence, and it introduces trending procurement and delivery strategies.

Railroad Ties: Darwin Desen

For Darwin Desen, who leads the Rail Transit Group in the Dallas-Fort Worth Burns & McDonnell office, hands-on is the only way to operate. He is a doer by nature, and he's pairing that work ethic with his extensive railway experience to develop functional, beneficial rail systems in Texas and across the country.

Calm After the Storm

After the destruction of Superstorm Sandy, hundreds of thousands of residents along the East Coast were without power. Public Service Electric & Gas' (PSE&G) Sewaren Switching Station was hit especially hard. Already slated for expansion, the project now needed to be advanced from a December 2013 completion date to energizing by June 1, 2013, to meet higher summer loading demands.

Smooth Move

Imagine coordinating a haul longer than the Space Shuttle, three times heavier. That's what one Burns & McDonnell expediter did, with successful results.