Track to help prevent large-scale disasters

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A new, unique graduate-level track in the School of Engineering will teach the best practices to engineers and safety, health and environmental professionals across industries to prevent expansive disasters like the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in West Virginia.

Martha Bidez

The UAB Master of Engineering degree track in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management (ASEM) will be offered online; its curriculum is based in experiential learning and peer-to-peer interaction.

Program Director Martha Bidez, Ph.D., a professor of engineering, says the ASEM degree 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 says.

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

“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 affect.”

Bidez says the ASEM’s advisory board is a roster of industry leaders in workplace safety, including John Howard, M.D., director of the 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 wisdom learned from deep and sometimes crisis-driven industry experience with adult learners in the ASEM graduate program through online discussion forums,” Bidez says. “This offers our students unparalleled access to the most influential minds in engineering safety.”

“The UAB School of Engineering has strong industry partnerships, and we are bringing many of those to bear with this new ASEM track,” says Paul George, School of Engineering director of external relations.

“We are very appreciative of our industry partners and their support for this new program and for all of our efforts in engineering at UAB.”

Bidez says the ASEM curriculum will offer world-class education in best practices on a worldwide and industry sectorwide basis. Course topics will include risk assessment, reduction and liability, ethical leadership, human performance and engineering design and policy issues in prevention through design. The course of study can be completed in 18 months.

Enrollment is under way. An undergraduate degree in engineering is not required for acceptance into the track. Learn more at or call 934-6528. Space is limited.