National Research Council appoints Don Russell to power infrastructure committee

August 22, 2005
| By: Aubrey Bloom

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Dr. B. Don Russell, Regents Professor and holder of the J.W. Runyon, Jr., Professorship in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been appointed to a committee of the National Research Council of the National Academies. The Committee on Enhancing Robustness and Resilience of Electrical Transmission and Distribution in the United States to Terrorist Attack is a joint committee of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and the Department of Homeland Security. The group will conduct an 18-month study of the vulnerability of the United States's power system to terrorist attack. "The idea is to determine ways we can make an attack on our power system less likely," Russell said. "More importantly, we will consider how we can most quickly recover our power system after an attack." Russell said that the August 2003 blackout that left more than 50 million people in the United States and Canada in the dark was debilitating enough, but terrorists could deliberately wreak the same havoc -- and more -- by attacking the country's power infrastructure. "If terrorists were planning another 9/11 and wanted to have maximum impact, they could attack the power system at the same time, which would wreak havoc with transportation and communications systems and with first responders'," Russell said. "The electric power infrastructure in the United States wasn't built to be protected from an attack because we have never faced that. We need to determine how to protect our system and how best to recover after an attack." A world-renowned expert in electric power systems, Russell was chosen for the committee appointment because he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a past-president of the Power Engineering Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Russell holds nine patents in protection and control systems for electrical systems and has directed the Power Systems Automation Laboratory at Texas A&M for more than 25 years. He was formerly associate vice chancellor for engineering of The Texas A&M University System and deputy director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station. Russell holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, all in electrical engineering.

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