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Teaching Chemical Process Safety: A Separate Course Versus Integration Into Existing Courses

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.479.1 - 4.479.10

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Anton Pintar

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

Session 3213


Anton J. Pintar Department of Chemical Engineering Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 49931

ABSTRACT In response to societal concerns about major disasters in the chemical process industries, chemical engineering departments have been attempting to incorporate chemical process safety into their curricula. Pressure is also coming from ABET; the AIChE Program Criteria in EC2000 require a working knowledge of the safety aspects of chemical processes.

There are three ways of incorporating chemical process safety into the chemical engineering curriculum: (1) a course or courses devoted to process safety, (2) integration of chemical process safety into existing courses and (3) a combination of the two approaches.

Having a separate course in chemical process safety puts process safety in a prominent position in the curriculum, forces the students to focus on process safety, and is the best way to deal with certain safety topics such as toxicology, industrial hygiene, dispersion models and design of relief systems. However, the students may compartmentalize safety and treat it as a topic separate from their other chemical engineering activities. Furthermore, the students may not experience a “hands-on” exposure to process safety. Finally, many chemical engineering departments do not have extra credits available in their curricula to permit a separate course in process safety.

Integrating chemical process safety into existing chemical engineering courses has the advantage of exposing the students to chemical process safety “in context”. The unit operations laboratory and the process design courses are ideal settings for integration of process safety. The instructional materials developed by SACHE make it possible to spread aspects of chemical process safety throughout the entire chemical engineering curriculum. The biggest difficulty with this approach is getting all the chemical engineering faculty to follow through with the implementation.

The Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University uses a combination of the two approaches to teaching process safety. In 1982 a process safety program was initiated in the unit operations laboratory. In 1986 an elective course in process safety was developed. Starting in 1993, this course has been required of all chemical engineering undergraduates. There is a synergy between the process safety course and the safety program in the unit operations laboratory. The SACHE (Safety and Chemical Engineering Education) instructional materials are used in freshman and sophomore courses and, hopefully, will be used in other courses in the future.

Pintar, A. (1999, June), Teaching Chemical Process Safety: A Separate Course Versus Integration Into Existing Courses Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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