Mechanical/Electrical Engineering: Bringing the Power


Mechanical/Electrical Engineering: Bringing the Power

Worn and new cables
Decayed power pipe, left, and modern shielded cabling, right; Mechanical and Electrical Engineers work on a wide variety of engineering challenges. 

Part II in our four-part series celebrating National Engineers Week. You're invited to join in our Twitter Q&A at the end of the week on Friday, Feb. 23, from noon - 1 pm PST. 

BART Senior Web Producer

Taken together, Mechanical and Electrical engineers at BART make up the biggest group of engineers in any discipline. They also are responsible for a lot of things that affect customers, whether that’s very visible safety-related features or behind-the-scenes work that keeps BART running. “It’s hands-on work and you get to see the benefits of your work, serving the greater good,” said Gary Fleming, Group Manager for Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. This group is broken into three main areas: Mechanical, Electrical and Traction Power.

Mechanical engineering includes design and construction support for mechanical systems such as heating and cooling (HVAC), plumbing, pumps, or support to the maintenance teams for escalators and elevators. Imagine if the 114 miles of the BART system were a giant skyscraper turned onto its side – BART trains would be the elevators traveling through it. Mechanical and electrical engineers maintain all the equipment in this “building” that allows BART trains to operate.  Everything that you would find in the Empire State Building you will find at BART, and then some. This includes sump pumps, sewage pumps, firefighting water pumps and piping of all sorts. There’s equipment for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, huge emergency ventilation fans (up to 350 horsepower), elevators, and escalators.

Electrical engineering provides design and construction support for low-to-medium voltage systems, which includes lighting in stations and tunnels, backup power and uninterrupted power supplies, really anything that requires electricity – from the station destination signs over the platforms, to fire alarms. “Electrical touches a lot of different departments, so we need people who are good communicators,” said Juan Ulloa, the electrical division manager.  Electrical engineers deal with voltages up to 4,160 volts alternating current, but mostly 480 volts and 120 volts alternating current. “We wear multiple hats, which is nice, because there are different career paths to choose from and you are not going to get pigeonholed into one narrow thing,” Ulloa says.

Traction power engineering works on the medium-to-high voltage issues, including the power distribution to run the trains. There are multidisciplinary teams and managers seek to hire those with good communication skills in addition to their engineering chops. Third-rail power is about 80% of all power that BART consumes.  Traction power engineers deal with voltages up to 34,500 volts alternating current, and 1000 volts direct current at up to 10,000 amperes.

If you have questions about these areas of BART's engineering staff, follow our Twitter Q&A on Friday, Feb. 23, from noon - 1 pm. You can review open positions at

To make searching jobs easier, here are some of the Job ID codes for jobs in the Mechanical/Electrical Engineering area:

Job ID 7625
Job ID 7370
Job ID 7374
Job ID 7569
Job ID 7375
Job ID 7627
Job ID 7362
Job ID 7363
Job ID 7425

In case you missed it, check out Monday's profile of Systems Engineering at BART. And, coming up tomorrow, we'll take a look at our Structural Engineering discipline.