Plan C: Respect for the engineers at Itaipu Binacional

Itaipú is all about Plan C.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to explore the innards of Itaipú Binacional, thanks to a set of fortunate circumstances (which will be detailed in my book*). Itaipú is the world's largest energy producing dam at the center of much controversy and a key part of my dissertation (remember aforementioned book?).

But, it's also straight up an astonishing engineering feat that, executed so well on the technical side, it gave me a much deeper respect for engineers in general. These guys (gender neutral) could build the starship Enterprise. A good engineer has multiple contigency plans-- and this is laced throughout the dam.

The three rows of buttons? Separate systems in case the controls for the elevators go down.

Everything goes to ground.

And look! The helpful diagram (blue line points to the spot) showing just how far down we are as we walk on the river bed.

The floors are marked by meters above sea level.

The still-functioning control panels on the walls, befitting the original Star Trek, have been replaced by the flatscreen computer terminals you see. But, should the computers and the control panels fail (plans A and B), there's always the original manual lever system a few hundred meters below. The left (top?) is Brazil's half of the turbines, the right (bottom?) is Paraguay's.

And this? Well... the beginning of an ongoing project to record the humorously gendered restroom signs I see in Paraguay. Unlike the United States, these are by no means standardized or homogenous.

* when, one magical day, I'm done writing up my dissertation research and actually, dream of all dreams, writing up a book draft!

Posted in , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.


Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark. Converted by