Carnegie Mellon University
May 21, 2013

Press Release: Experts To Focus on Safety Strategies for US Infrastructure at Carnegie Mellon's Washington Speaker Series

Contact: Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's M. Granger Morgan will moderate a distinguished panel of experts on the critical infrastructure in the United States from 7 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 30, at the sixth installment of the CMU College of Engineering's Washington Speaker Series at the Cosmos Club at 2121 Massachusetts Ave. in Washington, D.C.

The panel discussion, titled "Natural Disasters & Terrorism: Strategies for Protecting Critical Services and Infrastructure," will feature:

  • Jacobo Bielak, professor of civil and environmental engineering at CMU;
  • Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security;
  • Tim Manning, deputy administrator for Protection and National Preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);
  • David K. Owens, executive vice president of Business Operations at Edison Electric Institute; and
  • Bruno Sinopoli, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at CMU.

The panelists will discuss how modern technologies could limit the risk of power outages from natural disasters and terrorism.

"The U.S. power grid is vulnerable. Continued growth of demand, new regulations created in the 1990s to promote industry competition, and more use of highly variable sources of power such as wind have produced an increasingly fragile network," said Morgan, the Thomas Lord University Professor of Engineering, head of CMU's Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) and director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

"While we need to make the system more robust, there is no way to make the power system perfectly secure against large natural disasters or terrorist attacks. For that reason, we also need to be taking steps to be able to speed up the restoration of the system after an outage, and to sustain critical social services when the bulk power system is down," Morgan said.

Morgan points out that CMU's Scott Institute has just released a new policymaker guide that provides recommendations on how to safely and reliably incorporate more variable energy resources — such as the wind — into the U.S. energy grid. CMU researchers also are involved with the Pennsylvania Smarter Infrastructure Incubator (PSII), a research center aimed at creating, applying and evaluating applications of sensing, data analytics and intelligent decision support for improving the construction, management and operation of critical infrastructure systems.

Carnegie Mellon's Washington Speaker Series is a nonpartisan forum designed to enhance meaningful exchange among business, government and research leaders through an exploration of issues at the intersection of policy, technology and innovation. The series is sponsored by the university's College of Engineering, which is recognized as a top 10 engineering school by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, see