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Member Spotlight: Bryan Tansky, P.E., Baltimore Gas and Electric

Bryan Tanksy, P.E. Baltimore Gas and Electric, MDSPE VP of Membership

As a mechanical engineering student at Lehigh University and an avid car fan, Bryan Tansky had an idea of where his profession would take him.

“I always thought my path would bring me to being a mechanical engineer working on some sort of automotive application,” he said.

His first job out of college, however, focused on an entirely different industry. FLSmidth Minerals made processing equipment for the mining sector. Tansky, who had always loved the tangible nature of mechanical engineering, was fascinated by this very real world application of engineering principles.

“The company’s flagship machine was a crusher which crushes rock to extract minerals,” he said. “You had to relate all those principles to this piece of heavy industrial equipment so it could do its job, but you also had to factor in the safety of the workers.”

That focus on worker safety carried over into his next job at GSE Systems, an engineering firm that focused on the energy industry. GSE had developed proprietary software to fully model the balance of plant at nuclear power plants.

“It modeled all the thermal and fluid systems, the circulating system and pumps so you could completely model the plant in real time and you could build simulators,” Tansky said. “We built out training curriculum so that operators would understand how the systems operate, how to respond to emergent scenarios, and how to properly and safely shut down equipment.”

That job, he added, served as a “bridge and helped me better understand how engineering ethics apply to our work. It taught me that the work is not just about building the power plant. It is about operating it safely and ensuring – through training and good communications – that workers have the information they need about the systems and safe operations.”

Today, Tanksy applies those skills and ethics to the BGE natural gas system. At different points over the past decade, he has been responsible for modeling the natural gas distribution system, ensuring the system remains in compliance with all regulatory requirements, and implementing a new IT platform to collect highly reliable, real-time data about system operations and conditions, automate work processes and dispatching schedules for field staff, and improve the overall efficiency of BGE’s natural gas operations.

It’s a particularly interesting time to be involved in the natural gas field.

“The natural gas industry is beginning to experience a different dynamic,” Tansky said.

The industry’s highest stress days traditionally have been the coldest days of the year.

“But natural gas is becoming a much bigger part of electrical generation as there is a shift away from coal-fired plants,” Tansky said. “So you have to deal with two scenarios now where you have to make sure residential users can heat their homes on the coldest days of the year and you have to make sure the point-based large users, the electrical plants, are properly served in the middle of summer.”

Those conditions mean that engineers “have to be forward looking when we model the system,” Tansky said. In addition to modeling for new natural-gas electricity plants, BGE is “also heavily involved with evaluating renewable natural gas as a climate initiative and adding those facilities to the system, so the modeling becomes very complex.”

The new Vice President of Membership for MDSPE, Tansky insists that participation in the society and professional networking is hugely valuable to engineers.

“The more people you meet and the more you learn about their careers and perspectives, those are things you can apply to your own work,” he said. They become the folks you can look to for input and guidance when you have challenges or opportunities. The more we network, the more we learn about all the different, moving parts of the engineering profession.”

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