June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
The recent and tragic water crisis in Flint, MI highlights the need for better linkages between engineers, public health agencies and public policy officials. Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) is an interdisciplinary field and research domain that addresses exposures to microbial pathogens through the environment. It is a widely accepted framework for the study of water quality and food safety. QMRA is most often performed by engineers because it is computationally intensive to mathematically model dynamic physical, chemical and biological processes from source to adverse health outcomes in a receptor. However, it relies heavily on multidisciplinary contributions for effective implementation. Risk management includes the design of engineering controls but also risk communication and risk perception - social science topics that are integral components of risk analyses. Furthermore, exposure to microbial agents is associated with substantial variability and uncertainty in behavior across the population. Despite the utility of the QMRA approach, few biological or social scientists are trained in this process or have sufficient statistical and quantitative skills to undertake such analyses. Similarly, few engineers possess the necessary skills in the social sciences to adequately address issues of human behavior that affect risks associated with exposure to pathogenic agents or responses to health risks. Therefore, we developed an intensive short course to enhance multidisciplinary cross training and graduate research through a combination of lectures and experiential learning opportunities – hands-on exercises and a group project. Through a comprehensive evaluation plan of the courses conducted in 2015 and 2016, we assessed the expanded ability of the course to improve outcomes for engineers in areas of the risk paradigm not traditionally emphasized in their graduate programs. Likewise, we tested the ability of the course to improve the quantitative and modeling skills in participants with backgrounds in social and behavioral sciences. The survey instruments were developed to evaluate both real and perceived knowledge of the participants. This talk focuses on our assessment of the extent to which perception was changed by learning. Participants completed identical pre- and post-workshop surveys containing five Perceptions scales (Perceptions of: QMRA-Related Ability, QMRA-Specific Ability, Knowledge – Hazard Identification, Knowledge – Dose Response and Exposure Assessment, Knowledge - Risk Management). This paper describes the structure of the course, content, pedagogy, and the lessons learned through the participant evaluation and perception of learning. Modifications to the course in response to participant comments were made between the 2015 and 2016 course and will be presented as well. Finally, this paper will serve as a model going forward for our subsequent short courses and may also be used as a model for cross disciplinary training of engineers within other domains that require social science integration.
Mitchell, J., & Weir, M. H., & Libarkin, J., & Rose, J. B. (2017, June), The Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment Interdisciplinary Instructional Institute (QMRAIII) – A Platform for Cross Disciplinary Training of Engineers with Social and Biological Scientists to Address Public Health Issues Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28995
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