University of Pittsburgh Offers Safety Engineering Certificate Program

A new Safety Engineering Certificate program for graduate students has launched at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of engineering (SSoE). The program is headed by Associate Professor and Director of Safety Engineering Program Joel Haight, an 18-year manager and engineering veteran of Chevron Corp.

The goal during the development of the Safety Engineering Program, which is made of three required courses and two courses from a list of electives, was to prepare engineers to meet the challenges that increased safety presents by training them in “the application and implementation of safety engineering concepts, principles and practices,” according to the SSoE. While the certificate is intended to provide training in safety engineering for engineers, it can be of benefit to those in non-engineering based safety professions.

The courses in the program were first offered in the spring 2014 semester, but the actual certificate program just got underway for the fall semester. The program is offered within a classroom setting, as well as online, so that anyone around the globe with computer access can take the program.

Numerous advisors from the energy industry, including Chevron and BP plc, as well as safety experts in other industries, as well, helped shape the program, Haight told Rigzone.

“We had a significant amount of input from a Chevron business unit manager of health and safety, as well as input from Westinghouse Electric Co. and other companies. We try to show the importance of optimizing solutions when there are competing objectives. It’s impossible to completely predict what people might do in a given situation, but by conducting research, we can get a pretty good reading of likely behaviors,” Haight explained, noting that a focus on human behavior is critical to developing a culture of safety.

While the safety of personnel, the environment and equipment has been of vital importance for virtually every oil and gas companies for years, the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 added a new urgency to the topic for safety engineers at energy companies, who know that one event is one too many. 

“One more Macondo and it’s game-over for production in the Gulf [of Mexico],” an oil company attendee at a recent offshore safety conference told Rigzone.


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