Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Power outage rocks campus
Power outage rocks campus
Jack BrandtSeptember 13, 2023

Power outage rocks campus


The second week of the 2023-24 academic year was jolted by an unexpected power outage on campus. Several academic buildings were without power between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Smoke in Hanson Hall of Science following a loud noise led to an evacuation of the building.

Junior Anna Maciejewski was in Hanson when the fire alarm went off. 

“My class was at 10:25 so I was just chilling in Hanson,” Maciejewski said. “I was sitting there and the alarm started going off.”

Maciejewski heard a sudden, loud noise and said that before that, the lights had been flickering. An issue with a transformer down the road led to a similar electrical problem in Hanson.

“You could smell burning,” Maciejewski said. “We left the building [at] around 10:05, and I got back in the building around 10:30.”

Lights continued to flicker after the evacuation, leaving students to wonder if something would happen again. Most reacted with surprise and confusion as to how their classes and labs could still be finished.

Chris Vaughan is chief information officer and runs the computer and technology departments at Augustana. He was impacted by the outage like the rest of campus. According to him, some school employees knew that there would be a power outage.

“There was an email that came out from facilities that several buildings would be affected by a power outage,” Vaughan said. “A couple unexpected things happened.”

Scheduled maintenance was taking place on nearby roads when a problem with a transformer led to the widespread power outage that surprised campus. In turn, this caused an electrical issue in Hanson Hall of Science.

Junior Nate Mesina had class in Old Main when the majority of campus lost power.

“We were already having computer problems in class, but then all of a sudden there was a loud thud,” Mesina said. “And then we heard another one.”

Mesina described the sound as a sudden, mini boom. The first noise was likely the transformer down the road, while the second sound was likely the mechanical problem in Hanson. Mesina’s professor decided to end class early, as there were only a few minutes left.

Many professors were able to adapt and, even though wifi was out across campus, most buildings had light. Most classes across campus were able to proceed as usual.

Professor Diane Mueller teaches in the math and computer science departments and had class at the time. She and Professor Nidhi Mourya worked together to print assignments, even without a stable wifi connection.

“We connected her laptop directly to the printer with a cable,” Mueller said.

Mueller also had flash drives ready with assignments on them. The rest of the day went smoothly, despite its mysterious and surprising start.

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