The Genesis of Reliability Engineering aka “Certainty of Operations”

October 11, 2017 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm America/Toronto Timezone
MIT Lincoln Laboratory
3 Forbes Rd
Lexington, MA 02421

Reliability Society

Gilmore G. Cooke, PE

The first two individuals to introduce reliability engineering in their work were: Dr. William Channing (1820 -1901), inventor of Boston’s fire alarm system over 160 years ago, and Fred Stark Pearson (1861-1915), chief engineer of the world’s first and largest public transit system of Boston. Channing had carefully examined and specified requirements for communicating fire emergencies, coining the phrase ‘unerring certainty of operations’. Channing then incorporated certain design features to guard against circuit interruptions and false alarms. These included redundant conductors, separation of circuits, monitoring of circuits, and automatic testing of wires. In his paper to the Smithsonian Institution in 1855, he reported that the overall design had proved sufficient to make Boston’s fire alarm system the ‘most certain means of communications which has yet been devised, under all conditions of weather and seasons’. Decades later when Pearson was an engineering student at Tufts College, he visited Boston’s central fire alarm station with Professor Dolbear. He became a disciple of Channing by expanding his motto to ‘taking the public view with regards to certainty of operations’. Pearson applied reliability engineering concepts to develop power and traction systems in Boston, Manhattan, Niagara Falls, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

Gilmore G. Cooke, PE of IEEE Boston Section History and Milestones Committee

Gilmore Cooke is Chair of the History and Milestones Committee of the IEEE Boston Section as well as its Secretary. He is a Professional Engineer in Massachusetts and California. He has worked throughout his career on large engineering and construction projects, both locally and throughout in the United States. He received the Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree in 1962. He is a volunteer in the IEEE and belongs to various historical societies. He’s published numerous articles on electrical engineering history and wrote The Story of L-Street Power Station, 1898-2006. He teaches a class to adults at the community college entitled History of Wired and Wireless Communications on Cape Cod.

Meeting Location: 3 Forbes Rd, Lexington, Massachusetts, 02421