Algonquin College grads are helping keep power-line techs safe

Algonquin College second year power line technician student Jarrett Pit wears a vest developed by Algonquin College while doing training at the Hydro Ottawa training yards for Algonquin College. (Jana Chytilova)

Warning: This jacket has a conductive mesh and a 90-decibel alarm to warn of non-electrified lines

A team of recent graduates from Algonquin College paired up with Hydro Ottawa this summer to help make a dangerous job a bit safer. Bradley Kasaboski, Derek Boase and Mauricio Ledón spent three months developing a prototype for a training jacket that can teach would-be power-line technicians how to navigate high-voltage wires.

The live line simulation jacket is a typical fluorescent-orange reflective jacket with a metallic, conductive mesh that covers most of its outside, and a small rectangular device containing a frequency transmitter, receiver and alarm strapped to its arm. When a student comes into contact with a non-electrified wire, the device will emit a sound of up to 90 decibels, alerting the wearer and the instructor. “The person is now the [warning] device,” says Kasaboski, an electrical engineering technologist. “When we were doing our research, [we found that] no one has created a completely mobile device that does the same sensing ours does.”

READ: Algonquin College | Ottawa, Ont. | Founded 1967

The technology is top-secret, but Alex Yang, a project manager at Algonquin’s Construction Research Centre, says it could lead to advances in touch-lamp technology, or could warn wearers before they come into contact with a power line. “There’s a lot of potential for how it could be used,” he says. For now, that potential rests with partner Hydro Ottawa to develop.

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