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Board # 156 : QMRA Wiki: An Educational Tool for Interdisciplinary Teaching of Risk Modeling in Engineering Curricula

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mark H. Weir The Ohio State University

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Mark H. Weir earned his BS in Environmental Engineering from Wilkes University and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Drexel University. He worked as the Associate Director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment. He worked in risk research and engineering with the US EPA until leaving for a faculty position at Temple University. While at Temple he served as the Acting Division Director of the Environmental Health Division in the College of Public Health. Dr. Weir is now at The Ohio State University working with both the College of Public Health and College of Engineering. He specializes in predictive water quality and risk models constructed to be easy to use for operations workers and managers.

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Jade Mitchell Michigan Sate University

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Dr. Jade Mitchell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh in Civil and Environmental Engineering, M.S. in Civil Engineering and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Drexel University. Dr. Mitchell is keenly interested in supporting environmental and human health decision making through the use of integrated risk and decision frameworks. Her work includes development of new frameworks, models and data sets toward this end. Dr. Mitchell has specific experience in quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and she conducted her graduate research under the multi-University, multi-disciplinary, Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA), a jointly funded US EPA and DHS Center of Excellence. After joining MSU, she became affiliated with CAMRA as a principal investigator. Her lab conducts both computational risk modeling research and fundamental research. Her current work and future interests lie at the intersection of chemical and microbial stressors where understanding trade-offs, benefits and risks deviate from existing risk paradigms and require new data, tools and frameworks. Her future research goals include applications of risk-based decision making to water infrastructure management, and emerging hazards such as antibiotic resistance. She is managing editor and a developer of the QMRAwiki, an interactive, online tool for the QMRA community. Dr. Mitchell has also been involved in developing and teaching training workshops in QMRA for several years. She was recently awarded a nearly $1M grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a new course, models and tools to support interdisciplinary engagement in QMRA.

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Julie Libarkin Michigan State University

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Alexis Layman Mraz The Ohio State University

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QMRA Wiki: An educational tool for interdisciplinary teaching of risk modeling in engineering curriculums

Authors: Mark H. Weir Ph.D., Jade Mitchell Ph.D., Alexis Mraz MS., Julie Libarkin Ph.D. and Joan B. Rose, Ph.D.

Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) is a paradigm that has demonstrated itself as a valuable tool in assessing the efficacy of engineering interventions through modeling and data analysis. One of the values of the QMRA paradigm is that in building the exposure scenario or conceptual model, the engineer understands their system better and can also predict changes to the system. The challenge in teaching QMRA to undergraduate and graduate engineering students is that QMRA is an interdisciplinary field that requires transdisciplinary approaches. What this means for QMRA instruction, is that the faculty member is faced with the formidable challenge of conveying essential concepts and guided implementation of the paradigm. This includes critical information from the fields of: microbiology, mathematics, physics, statistics, public health and engineering. Considering the need to broaden the QMRA community and include more engineers in the field, a tool for learning – the QMRA Wiki ( - was developed. It serves as an online location for a suite of educational material, tools, applications, data and models. We will present the development of the wiki as an educational tool and focus on studies conducted over several years to ascertain the effectiveness of the QMRA wiki for education. A diverse group of participants in an instructional institute during the summers of 2015 and 2016 served as the cohort for this study. Through pre- and post- surveys, it was possible to determine their improvement in concepts related to QMRA data, models and peripheral material. The surveys are constructed to ascertain their comfort and ability to apply QMRA knowledge as well as the mechanics of QMRA before and after the institute. These results are being used to advance the QMRA wiki further and improve the educational tools.

Weir, M. H., & Mitchell, J., & Libarkin, J., & Mraz, A. L. (2017, June), Board # 156 : QMRA Wiki: An Educational Tool for Interdisciplinary Teaching of Risk Modeling in Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27787

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