VIDEO: UAB pioneers new graduate level safety track to help prevent disasters like Gulf oil spill

Engineering from uabnews on Vimeo.


BIRMINGHAM, ALA. — A newly created and first-of-its-kind graduate-level track of study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Engineering will educate engineers and safety, health, and environmental professionals across industries in the best practices to prevent expansive disasters like the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in West Virginia.

The UAB Master of Engineering degree track in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management (ASEM) will be offered online with a curriculum based in experiential learning and peer-to-peer interaction, said the program’s director, Martha Bidez, Ph.D., a professor at the School of Engineering. An undergraduate degree in engineering is not required for acceptance into the track.

Bidez said ASEM will help revolutionize safety practices across sectors with a curriculum focused on the No. 1 way to prevent serious workplace injury and disaster: prevention through design.

“We want the engineers who design systems and the safety specialists charged with protecting operations and personnel to share a common language so that system failures, human errors, and other factors that can lead to large-scale disasters are minimized if not removed from the equation all together,” Bidez said.

School of Engineering Dean Linda Lucas, Ph.D., said the school is justifiably proud of its new offering.

“Embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of UAB, we have designed a track within an existing program that is not available anywhere else in the world and meets a crucial need,” Lucas said. “There is no industry that safety engineering and management does not impact.”

Bidez said the ASEM’s advisory board is a who’s-who of leaders in workplace safety, including John Howard, M.D., M.P.H., J.D., LL.M, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Kimberly Scheibe Greene, the group president of strategy and external relations for the Tennessee Valley Authority who helped lead that company’s response to its widely publicized coal ash disaster in 2008.

“Our advisory board members are a unique group of practitioner-scholars who will share their wisdom learned from deep and sometimes crisis-driven industry experience with adult learners in the ASEM graduate program through online discussion forums,” Bidez said. “This offers our students unparalleled access to the most influential minds in engineering safety.”

Other advisory board members are Deborah Grubbe, P.E., CEng., owner and president of Operations and Safety Solutions, LLC, and previously vice president of safety-change management for British Petroleum; Lisa Capicik, regional safety director for Brasfield and Gorrie, LLC; Timothy Kennedy, global human resource director for Valmont-Newmark; Fred Manuele, P.E., C.S.P., president of Hazards Ltd.; and Charles Shaw, P.E., corporate safety and health manager for Alabama Power Company.

Bidez said the ASEM curriculum, inspired by the program’s industry partners, will offer world-class education in safety best practices on a worldwide and industry sector-wide basis. Course topics will include risk assessment, reduction and liability, ethical leadership, human performance, and engineering design, as well as policy issues in prevention through design. The course of study can be completed in 18 months.

Enrollment opened June 19. Interested parties should visit the admissions page at the School of Engineering website  and follow the link for graduate admission. Additional information is available by calling 205.934.6528. Space is limited.


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