Michael F. Ahern is a Director of Corporate and Professional Education at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and an Instructor for WPI’s Foisie Business School. He leads the group that develops graduate education programs for working professionals and corporations. Mike’s personal specialty areas are: Power Systems; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Cybersecurity; and Operational Risk. Mike improves the quality of the student experience by working with the faculty to update the curriculum and share best practices in course delivery, both online and classroom.
Mike has taught graduate WPI’s Operations Risk Management course (OIE 541) and developed and taught customized professional development courses on power industry reliability assurance and cyber-security. Further, Mike has developed and delivered IEEE Power and Energy Society Webinars like: “Green Energy and the Electric Delivery System: Opportunities for Energy Efficiency” and is a regular guest lecturer on energy topics at Yale University and has presented to the New England Governors & Eastern Canadian Premiers, and to alumni groups from both MIT and RPI.
Mike was WPI’s Principal Investigator for a team of 4 faculty and staff helping to perform federally funded research to assess the vulnerability of the US Power Grid to cyber-attacks. He is currently WPI’s Principal Investigator with another team of 5 faculty and staff who are part of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterizations Systems (RADICS) development effort.
Mike brings over 35 years of professional experience to this role. He began his career in 1978 at the Pratt & Whitney division of United Technologies Corporation. He joined Northeast Utilities (NU, now part of Eversource Energy) in 1981 and rose through a series of increasingly responsible positions at the Millstone nuclear power plant. He led NU’s Transmission Operations and Planning in 2004 and was promoted to Vice President, Utility Services in 2005. He led NU’s Distribution Engineering and Training activities as part of his overall responsibilities which also included: Safety; System Restoration and Emergency Preparedness; Vegetation Management; Planning Performance and Analysis; and Corporate Transportation. He served on NU’s Executive Committee on Corporate Ethics and Controls; chaired the Safety and Health Committee; and was a member of the Cybersecurity Committee. Following his retirement from NU in 2012, Mike joined WPI in his current capacity.
Ahern earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he was selected as a member of Tau Beta Pi (the National Engineering Honor Society). He later earned both Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a registered professional engineer in Connecticut and held a Transmission System Operator certification from the North American Electric Reliability Council.
In the News
The Washington Post included insight from Michael Ahern, director of power systems engineering. Gas at high pressure, generally about 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi), is carried long distances in steel pipes with a diameter of 18 to 36 inches, Ahern said. In the case of Massachusetts, those lines will arrive from gas sources in Texas, Pennsylvania or Canada, he told The Post.
Energy Central published "Cybersecurity for the Power Grid" by Michael Ahern, director of power systems engineering. “In my view, cybersecurity is like a race that never ends. Attackers are building their capabilities even as organizations improve their defenses,” he wrote.