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 asses 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.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Igor Bulanyy

Senior Electrical Engineering Specialist Igor Bulanyy is no stranger to the trade. Celebrating his five-year anniversary with the utility this year, Igor’s rich knowledge of the sector includes a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Kiev Polytechnical Institute and more than 45 years of industry experience. “I’ve being doing electricity my whole life,” said Igor. “I became interested in it in 8th grade as a hobby and then it became my profession.”

Igor works out of the North Service Center Annex and lives in Edmonds with his wife. In this week’s (spot)Light, he shares his interests, including one buzz-worthy passion: beekeeping.

Igor with an educational poster he made about the benefit of bees and their impact


“I’ve been lucky to meet good people at City Light. My partner Carey Deutscher was (and still is) my main mentor in this position. Our job duties are challenging. We investigate and interpret any power quality related issues for our customers. Things like radio frequency interferences and electromagnetic fields. My personal interpretation of this position is an ‘electric detective.’ Every case is different which provides me with an endless opportunity to learn something new. It’s a challenge I really enjoy.”

“In 1995, my wife and I came to Seattle because we thought it had similar weather conditions as our home country of Ukraine. The combination of the forests, rivers, lakes and mountains with the city’s urban infrastructure gives us an opportunity to implement our optimistic intentions, hobbies and use our skillsets in the best ways.” “I have many hobbies, but my dominant interest is beekeeping. It’s something I was learning from my father for about 30 years. It was here in the states that I had the chance to take this on by myself and, over the years, the hobby has turned into a lifestyle—a permanent necessity.”

“I’m a member of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, and keep my bees in a rented backyard space in the university district. After work, I ride the bus and make a transfer to another bus to go take care of my bees. I do this at least twice a week and on the weekend. Right now, I have four colonies. I’ve had as many as eight hives at a time—it just depends on the seasons and the conditions. The number of bees per hive also depends on the season. During winter, there can be 3,000-5,000 bees per hive and in the summer as many as 50,000 or more.”

“I never use gloves when I’m with my hives. I like to feel the detail of everything. However, if there’s a situation where I get stung, I take it as a very good benefit. Among beekeepers it’s known that bee venom can help lower arthritis. Bees aren’t only about pollination and honey—they offer other health-related benefits making them irreplaceable on our planet and in our lives.” “I encourage beekeeping for two reasons. The first is to share my experience and knowledge with others. A goal of mine is to encourage and assist people throughout the utility to learn more about bees. The second is that we cannot survive without bees. The bee colony is the ideal society—interesting, multi-dimensional and followed by instincts only. There’s something to learn from them.”