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Building a Broadband Community with a Baldrige-Based Approach

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Engineering Management Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.297.1 - 26.297.14



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Paper Authors


Michael Browder Bristol Tennessee Essential Services

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Michael Browder, a past chairman of American Public Power Association’s Board, has served as CEO of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) since 1977. He earned his doctorate of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from ETSU, his Master of Administrative Science from the University of Alabama Huntsville and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. He is a registered Professional Engineer. Dr. Browder is the 2010 recipient of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellences’ Ned Ray McWherter Leadership Award. Under his leadership, BTES has been awarded the prestigious TNCPE Level 4 Excellence Award both in 1993 and 2012.

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Andrew J. Czuchry East Tennessee State University

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Andrew Czuchry received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1969 with a concentration in guidance and control systems engineering. He has more than twenty years experience as a professional manager in technical innovation and the electronics manufacturing industry. Dr. Czuchry has been the holder of the AFG Industries Chair of Excellence in Business and Technology since joining East Tennessee State University in 1992. He has published extensively in refereed journals and proceedings of professional organizations related to his field.

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April Eads

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April Eads is the Business Development Manager for Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES). She has been with BTES since 1996.

April has her Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology from Northeast State Community College, her Bachelor of Applied Science and Master of Science from East Tennessee State University.

She began her career at BTES in the Customer Service Department, later moving to the Engineering Department. After working as an Engineering Assistant for several years, she was promoted to Business Development Manager, where she assists local industry by facilitating resources that assist in bringing new jobs and capital investment to her community.

April graduated from Oklahoma University’s Economic Development Institute and she is a Certified Economic Developer.

April is married to Tim Eads and has two sons, Tyler 19 and Kodee 14. April is active in the community and serves on Bristol Morning Rotary Board; Chamber of Commerce Lead Bristol Advisory Committee; and the Northeast Tennessee Regional Industrial Association Advisory Committee.

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Building a Broadband Community with a Baldrige Based ApproachThis article makes a contribution by providing a conceptual framework for transforming theinnovative use of information technology into business growth by simultaneously solving thecombined technology and business problem. A total systems approach is facilitated bydeploying the National Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence for evaluating businessmodel improvements while embedding the disruptive use of information technology. SeeClayton M. Christensen (1996). A key finding of this applied research is that by concurrentlysolving the business and technology innovations far greater financial success can be realized thanwhen the engineering and engineering management functions are treated independently or inseries.The conceptual framework is illustrated and implementation coaching points are suggested usingthe technology and business narrative of the transformation of Bristol Tennessee Electric Systeminto Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES). The eureka occurred when the engineeringplan to implement a broadband service capability was viewed as also providing enhancedcapabilities for the core electrical power distribution business itself. The engineering focusedbusiness growth plan called for an initial investment of over 20 million dollars growing to morethan $65 million over the ten year deployment cycle. Although financially sound, theengineering entrepreneurial view would not have met the thresholds expected from technologybased startups in the information technology arena. However, when viewed as a simultaneousengineering and engineering management challenge, it was recognized that the broadbandcapability also provided improved reliability of the electrical power distribution system. In theBaldrige context this fact was in strategic alignment with a key organizational objective ofproviding reliable electrical power. The impact on core business key success factors wasassessed with the aid of an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Report (1996) documentingthat a single power outage for commercial clients often cost more in lost productivity than anentire year’s electrical power supply. This finding underscored the value to the core businessand resulted in unanimous board approval. As a result, the combined engineering andengineering management solution to a concurrent engineering and engineering managementproblem achieved remarkable results. For example, the joint approach resulted in financialbreakeven nine years ahead of the entrepreneurial engineering startup approach. Bristol hasbecome a Broadband Community with each customer having access to 1 gigabit per second ofbandwidth capability; and the Baldrige Based Approach has expedited efforts to provide a highlyreliable, effective and efficient smart grid power system. The lessons learned from BTES’scontinuing journey are translated into coaching points in this article. To the extent otherschoosing to implement the conceptual framework offered in this article find these coachingpoints helpful, a significant contribution will have been made. ReferencesClayton M. Christensen (1996): Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 17, 197-218 (1996)Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Report (1996): See LBNL-58164 “Cost of PowerInterruptions to Electricity Consumers in the United States (U.S.)” (2006)

Browder, M., & Czuchry, A. J., & Eads, A. (2015, June), Building a Broadband Community with a Baldrige-Based Approach Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23636

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