Seattle City (spot)Light: Robert Cochran

Senior Civil Engineer Robert Cochran celebrates ten years at City Light this month. As part of the Generation Operations and Engineering group, Robert specializes in structural engineering with a focus on seismic resiliency. “Before City Light, I worked as a private consultant for several engineering offices in Seattle,” Robert explained. “That’s how I got my experience in structural engineering and seismic design; I worked on schools, fire stations and other related projects.”

Born and raised in Seattle, Robert grew up on Mercer Island. He attended North Seattle College where he received an associates degree in drafting and went on to the University of Washington to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He lives in Lake Forest Park with his wife of 33 years, Marlene and has four children. “Seattle is fantastic in terms of the diversity of the region,” Robert shared. “I’ve never really wanted to move away.”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Robert gives insight into his work as a seismic engineer and shares his love of music.

Senior Civil Engineer Robert Cochran

“I’m a musician; a singer-songwriter. I share music under two different names: Daffodil Daydream and Crystal City Rockers. The Beatles are my favorite band and I think my music has a Beatle-esque flavor. We are a musical family.  My wife sings, my two sons are in local bands with albums out and my eldest daughter is completing her first EP.  We periodically go to their shows; tonight, it’s at the Tractor Tavern!”

“In terms of my work, well, we’ve all heard of ‘The Big One.’ Based on recent information, we know the seismicity of our region better. We also know that our older facilities were built before seismic design was a major concern. It’s my job to assess our structures and make the proper recommendations to improve the capabilities of our structures and facilities. The process can be broken down into three steps: screen, evaluate and mitigate, if needed.”

“Every year, we work on a civil engineering project with students at Seattle University. We usually have four or five students involved. It’s great because we get the opportunity to mentor these students and, in the process, they help assess our facilities. This year we’re looking at a powerhouse.”

“City Light is a national leader in applied seismic design as we have incorporated base isolation, damping and other technologies to enhance earthquake performance.  I’ll be presenting a paper that showcases a sample of our work at the ASCE ETS Conference in Atlanta this fall. The presentation is entitled ‘Seismic Resiliency, What a Utility Needs to Know to Keep the Lights On.’”

“I feel like there is a community benefit to my being part of the utility. Seattle has 700,000+ people and every day I’m doing things that will improve their chance of having power after an earthquake. That’s kind of what jazzes me. To know that I have a direct impact on our city.”