(149e) Integrating Chemical Process Safety across the Curriculum | AIChE

(149e) Integrating Chemical Process Safety across the Curriculum


Carter, T. - Presenter, Northeastern University
Process safety education and training at US colleges and universities is currently insufficient to meet industry needs.1 Failure to prepare students with essential process safety training can and does lead to catastrophic and financially devastating events. In addition, failing to include mandated process safety in the curriculum can cause a program to lose ABET accreditation. Loss of accreditation means loss of competitiveness and will result in fewer enrollees, which could add up to millions of dollars lost in annual tuition per year. The goal of this project is to integrate process safety across the Northeastern University (NEU) Chemical Engineering (ChmE) curriculum to address these needs and minimize these risks.

Industry has identified eight necessary chemical process safety learning outcomes as specified by the Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) Committee2: These outcomes span from an understanding of past events, to the hazards and impacts of chemicals and releases, and move towards understanding how to assess the hazards and risks associated with a process and to design or mitigate against them.

Through this project, the NEU ChmE curriculum was updated to include these eight outcomes, integrated across eight core ChmE courses, taught by 14 instructors, in order to evaluate the impact of the curriculum change. The student perceptions of their respective skills were measured before and after the redesign and their scores on assignments/quizzes/tests that related to process safety needs were also measured. In addition, this project produced the framework needed for future collaborative initiatives in chemical engineering education. Faculty annual reviews now include specific and measurable educational goals. A review system for faculty to measure their education outcomes and reflect on, and propose future changes has been implemented, and an annual faculty education retreat has been established to develop department wide educational goals. In addition, students have created an electronic portfolio to showcase the evidence of their effective progress.

  1. Luo, Y., Westmoreland, P. R., Alkaya, D.,Alves da Cruz, R. V., Grossmann, I. E., Provine, W. D., Silverstein, D. L., Steininger II, R. J., Talbot, J. B., Varma, A., McCreight, T., Chin, K, Schuster, D. Academia-Industry Alignment: Expectations about New Graduates, an NSF-Sponsored Study led by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; 2015.
  2. Safety And Chemical Engineering Education Committee, (SAChE), [cited 2017; Available from: http://www.sache.org/SACHEGuidelinesForABET.pdf].