Electrical and telecom engineers are incredibly vital to managing and protecting our new smart grid. While the grid guys maintain power and transmission substations – in addition to the physical layers of the network – telecom guys install communication connections and ensure end-to-end reliability of data transfer and related layers.
Technology wise, new IoT capabilities must merge with legacy equipment, requiring the jobs of telecom and electrical engineers to also merge. With their roles at the forefront of the job, we’re excited about the new ways electrical and telecom engineers will combine skills to advance solutions for utilities everywhere. After all, it will be their dual efforts that will result in a stronger, better protected grid. Here’s how:
1. Translating megawatts and megabits.
IoT integration is both exciting and increasingly complex. Decoding the new linguistic repertoire can be a big challenge. Both electrical and telecom engineers have technical jargon that only they understand. But taking the time to decode each other’s technical language will be key to troubleshooting the future grid as a shared language will improve integration.
2. Moving beyond obscurity.
Both electrical and telecom guys know that SCADA systems are not inherently secure. But often times the obscure protocols and network systems make it easy to overlook some things. Because the smart grid utilizes different technologies and applications, integration is a great touch point for electrical and telecom engineers to understand this evolving attack surface and jointly develop new standards for how this technology will interact. IT security and OT reliability will continue to be a top priority, requiring telecom and electrical engineers to develop common standards.
3. Maintaining the Code of Ethics.
IoT integration can put grid operators outside their realm of expertise. Companies like SSS provide this specialized capability which is often hard to find. Both telecom and electrical engineers can bridge the knowledge gap by adhering to the IEEE Code of Ethics, particularly Article 6 requiring engineers “to maintain and improve our technical competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations.” By coming to terms with any limitations, engineers can combine their capabilities to maximize the reliability of networks and equipment.