News

Hour without power stalls main campus

Last Thursday, the Carnegie Mellon community, parts of Oakland and Squirrel Hill were deprived of electricity for about 76 minutes from 4:04 pm until about 5:20. Shortly after the power outage, a crowd of students and faculty could be seen evacuating academic buildings including Porter and Baker Halls, the University Center, Doherty Hall, and Wean Hall. According to police officers patrolling the Cut in cars, the blackout extended throughout campus and parts of Oakland.

Eric Bowlanger, a sophomore civil engineering student, who was writing a letter in the mailroom in the University Center basement at the time, said it took about a minute for the emergency power to come on.

People across campus could be seen speaking on their cell phones, including one student who could be heard saying ?Damn it! There?s no power on this entire freakin? campus!? as he rode across The Cut on his mini-scooter.

According to John Laudenslager, senior manager of Media & Governmental Relations for Duquesne Light, there are two main circuits that provide the campus with electricity and one of them was down for maintenance. This was confirmed by Joe Stubler, an electrician with Facilities Management Services, as he ran into Doherty Hall with an extension cord at about 4:20 pm. Laudenslager said the cause of the outage was equipment failure at 4:02 pm that caused the failure of a circuit near the Carnegie Institute.

Campus computer clusters were closed and Wean Hall was mostly evacuated as a result of the outage. Mark Banister, manager of chemical services for environmental health and safety, was in Wean Hall to check the integrity of backup power for freezers in the buildings and to ensure the safe shut down of any experiments that may have been in progress. The flashlight-toting Banister said the generators that provided emergency power to the building would last for several hours and that people were being told to go home. He then told the students sitting in the hallway in front of the Habermann clusters to vacate the building. However, the order seemed to have little effect on the introductory computer science students who were getting software from David Winters, a system administrator for the CS department. The blackout affected his ability to distribute the software. ?The people who bring laptops I can help, but anyone who?s planning to bring a CPU[desktop] is out of luck,? said Winters.

Wean?s clusters were locked and secured by Mike Kelleher, a 5th year senior who works for Computing Services. A sign hung on the door declared the cancellation of Computing Skills Workshop classes for that day.