Monday, December 02, 2013

Quick survey of my readers at R1 universities

I'm trying to gather some information, informally.  If you're at a tier-1 research university in the US or Canada, please tell me how many power failures your university has had this year, or in a typical year.  By "power failure", I mean a campus-wide outage lasting at least a second.  It's better if you can mention the name of the university.  (Rice readers, I already know the answer for us - no need to chime in.)  Follow up:  if you know, does your university have big uninterruptible supplies for particular facilities or buildings?  Thanks. 

16 comments:

Anzel said...

We had two power sags at Caltech in 2012, but I see nothing for the year of 2013 (so maybe about 1/year?). These were also problems coming from the Pasadena power grid.

Anonymous said...

We had two last year at Queens University Belfast, maybe three. Caused by inclement weather over loading the Belfast power grid.

Ted Sanders said...

0 power failures that I'm aware of. Stanford University.

Brad Holden said...

I think that we average one power outage a month, give or take. The frequency of the outages led to many faculty complaints. I know more than one faculty member threatening to leave over the outages (when your supercomputer goes down during an expensive calculation, you get cranky.) The maintenance schedule has been something of a running joke.

Every science building has a backup generator and the campus has a cogeneration plant that produces steam heat as well as power. On top of that, UPS's are ubiquitous, required for every desktop machine in every office. Our server room has its own, expensive and large, UPS. (Oddly enough Saturday's fire was in standard wiring from a power outlet and not caused by a computer or UPS.)

Douglas Natelson said...

Hi Brad - So, who pays for the UPSs? Does each PI foot the bill for their own, or is this something the university does? Thanks!

Peter Armitage said...

JHU. We had a problem ~ 2 years ago where a major exchange blew out. We had a diesel generator in the parking lot for ~ 4 weeks. Other than that we've had a power outage for ~ 12 hours every other year for the 7 years I've been here. Power has stayed on on campus, when it has gone out in the neighborhood across the street in summer lighting storms.

Massimo said...

O(1) -- University of Alberta
(not sure if we have actually had one, but that is the typical number)

Massimo

steve said...

We have 1-2 power flickers a year, but I think they're shorter than your 1 second cutoff. Only once in the 4 years I've been in this lab did we completely lose power for more than a second -- I think it was out for a few minutes. (University of Michigan)

Ryan Comes said...

At the University of Virginia, we had power failures during the summer within the engineering school for 1-2 seconds every week or so my entire time there. As you can imagine, this makes the microscopes and vacuum chambers very unhappy and they are too big to be backed up by the kinds of UPS systems that PIs can afford. The university did not seem interested in fixing the situation.

Tanvir said...

At least one campus wide power failure in this year at McGill University.

Anonymous said...

ORNL, 2 per year (caveat: partial campus black-out, but much more than single building), no UPS from the lab therefore no UPS at all

Anonymous said...

MIT, one campus black out a little over a year ago. There is no UPS in the microfabrication facility so everything went down pretty hard (down for up to a week).

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/campus-power-outage.html

Anonymous said...

Princeton, one campus wide power failure during Sandy although the University's Co-gen plant backed up power pretty quickly. However, the cleanroom does not have a UPS and so was down pretty much for a whole week.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure GW is a first tier, but we didn't have any power failure since I joined (in 2011)

Anonymous said...

1 in 2 years that i am aware of.Wayne State Univ.

Alex Caporis said...

Queen's University - Canada

0 (zero)
I'm mostly sure we haven't had any power failures in the past two years.
However, I work in a laser and nanomaterials lab with a lot of equipment that draws high current and power requirements (conventional, induction and vacuum furnaces - instron machines, CNC, XRD, etc) and although we do have backup generators, as far as I know we've never had a power outage. Even during the recent ice storm(s) - although I wasn't in the lab the entire weekend but only popped in for brief periods.