The American Society of Safety Engineers has awarded a student chapter to UAB. The inaugural president of the section, Donny Burke, a doctoral student in the UAB School of Engineering, says the ASSE facilitates interdisciplinary interaction.
“Being a part of ASSE provides a unique opportunity for students in every discipline across UAB’s campus to tap into a deep pool of industry knowledge,” Burke says. “This opens the door for students to build relationships with professional contacts and see firsthand how the knowledge they gain at UAB is applied in the field.”
The UAB ASSE received its first gift only days after the announcement when the Southeastern U.S. Mine Safety & Health Conference thanked students for volunteer efforts with $500. It is not lost on the students or faculty that the Labor Department recently ruled that “unlawful policies and practices” was the “root cause” in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that killed 29 men in West Virginia last year.
“The Southeast mining community is teaming with UAB to be trailblazers in workplace safety and to set landmark standards for all others to follow,” says Martha Bidez, Ph.D., professor and director of UAB’s Advanced Safety Engineering and Management graduate track. “The UAB ASSE will help provide this country with the next generation of leaders that will prevent workplace tragedies like we saw in West Virginia.”
The 20 members of the inaugural UAB ASSE student chapter are immediately eligible for scholarships from the national and local ASSE. They are working to present research posters and host a career fair, and they will volunteer at next year’s SMSH conference. And Burke sees the UAB chapter becoming a leader in the effort to meet the National Institute for Occupational Health’s national initiative.
“It will take an interdisciplinary team to meet NIOSH’s goals of prevention through design,” says Burke. “And as industries change over to the new initiative, the UAB ASSE students will be well prepared to take a leading role in meeting this challenge and advancing the level of safety within our country.”