June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.489.1 - 14.489.12
Defusing Prevention through Design Principles through Engineering Textbooks …the opportunity to eliminate a hazard at the drawing board through good design is one that should be seized with both hands.1
There is a growing demand on engineers by business leaders to anticipate and minimize workplace hazards early in the design process, rather than retrofit changes after workers gets hurt. Design, in this regard, can be for a facility, piece of equipment used in a process or the design of the process, system, or operation itself. It is analogous to “green chemistry,” which has started to gain interest in chemistry programs as a way to prevent pollution and sustain our resources. Many decisionmakers view this preventive approach as a commonsense necessity in today’s highly competitive business environment and see it as an essential element of lean production and service systems. Large and small companies worldwide have put into practice Prevention through Design (PtD) management practices for reducing the direct and indirect costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses.
One significant barrier to PtD is the lack of training for most new engineers on how they can contribute to profitable enterprises by considering occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards and risks at the drawing board, and taking steps to minimize them. Senior managers from approximately forty Fortune 500 companies expressed concern over this gap in education.2 They said time and money is devoted to training new engineers on basic company policies related to the prevention of workplace health and safety hazards. They also indicated the expensive need to retrofit equipment, systems, facilities, and operations to reduce risks that were not addressed during the design process. Today’s businesses have a growing demand for engineering graduates who are knowledgeable in PtD concepts.
This paper emphasizes the importance of including PtD in engineering education. It argues that teaching such concepts does not require stand-alone courses in already full curricula. Concepts can be woven into existing textbooks through the use of examples and case studies. Authors can include PtD messages in new editions of books as they are being updated.
A brief history of PtD and its link to engineering school education is provided below. Then, the PtD National Initiative is summarized with links to more information. This initiative forms a comprehensive foundation upon which the PtD engineering textbook project is an important component. The paper presents the steps being taken to incorporate PtD concepts into selected textbooks. Finally, several case studies of PtD in action are given that represent the types of examples that could be used in engineering textbooks. It is hoped that readers of this paper will promote the PtD concept among their students and peers and request that such information be included in future textbooks used by engineering students in their fields.
Rinehart, R., & Heidel, D., & Okun, A., & Barsan, M. (2009, June), Diffusing Prevention Through Design Principles Through Engineering Textbooks Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5643
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