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Implementing And Teaching Risk Mitigation In Project Courses

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Undergraduate Aerospace Labs/Design I

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.723.1 - 10.723.10



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Paper Authors

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Robert Niewoehner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Implementing and Teaching Risk Mitigation in Project Courses Robert Niewoehner United States Naval Academy


Faculty members teaching courses involving Design-Build-Operate projects have several distinct responsibilities regarding risk management. First, they have the obvious responsibility to safeguard the physical welfare of the involved students. Furthermore, they have a responsibility to instill in their students an appreciation for controlling risk in the operation of engineering systems. This paper applies industrial risk management processes to the educational design project both as a means of enhancing student safety and introducing risk management/mitigation as a distinct engineering process. Classroom-ready exercises are presented suitable for adoption in any engineering curriculum.


Contrary to perception, Experimental/Developmental Flight Test is not supposed to be an exciting activity. In fact, considerable effort goes into making Flight Test mundane, the premise being that exciting flight test is typically undesirable, particularly if the excitement arises from the unforeseen. The processes by which the "excitement" is contained provide the substance of the flight test professional's identity. In contrast, the testing of student engineering projects is frequently ill-disciplined, supervised by faculty members who were otherwise very demanding in the rigor of other elements of their craft.

Two prominent issues arise. The first is safeguarding the safety of the involved students. Colleagues report the following episodes which have to be regarded as significant breeches in test discipline. - At one school, in each of the past two years, during test flights of 25 lb. Radio-Controlled airplanes, the airplanes have struck test members pre-occupied with capturing video of the flight tests. Fortunately, the only injuries have been bruised shins. - The first test operation of a SAE formula car was conducted along a narrow road lined on one side by parked cars, and on the other by a 3-foot concrete seawall which included a number of fixed protuberances (bollards, cleats, reinforcement stanchions at right angles to the road). Test speeds exceeded 45 mph during the first ten minutes of driving. The only obvious safety accommodation was a crash helmet, seat belts and a roll bar. - A solar-powered car operating on public roads was involved in a collision with a private automobile, killing the student operator.1 The second is the negative educational element by which rigor and professionalism is demanded during the design, yet test practices are casual and ad hoc. The students fail to grasp that Test and Evaluation (T&E) is itself an engineering field in its own right, with its own processes and disciplines.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition This material is declared a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the U.S.

Niewoehner, R. (2005, June), Implementing And Teaching Risk Mitigation In Project Courses Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15468

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