UK students at Bradford awarded IChemE’s 2020 SIESO Medal

Article by Amanda Jasi

This year's IChemE SIESO Medal was awarded for an innovative popup book depicting lessons learned from the 2005 Texas City Refinery disaster

ICHEME has awarded a team of engineering students at the University of Bradford, UK, with the 2020 SIESO Medal for their innovative popup book depicting the lessons learned from the 2005 Texas City Refinery disaster. The incident killed 15 people and injured 180 others.

Launched in 2019, the SIESO Medal is an annual competition open to all students around the world, which sees the medal and £750 (US$971) awarded to an individual or a team with the most novel and innovative multimedia presentation of a major incident and the learning outcomes.

This year’s winners – Kalokson Gurung, Laya Jayadeep, Janusz Siwek, Satyam Vora, and David Zhou – produced a paper analysing the disaster to accompany their pop-up book. The paper, Texas City Refinery explosion – safety out of focus, has been featured in the latest issue of the Loss Prevention Bulletin published on 5 October and is free to download on IChemE’s website.

The butterfly effect is the theme of the popup book. According to Jayadeep, this choice stemmed from research into the disaster which highlighted to the team the “importance of process safety, how everyone is responsible for ensuring safety, and the expense of negligence towards even low-risk issues”. The butterfly effect theme was used to highlight these factors and to grab the reader’s attention on the matter.

Jayadeep commented: “My team and I are extremely delighted by this achievement. We are overwhelmed by the whole experience whilst proud to have contributed a whole different aspect of understanding on this incident and lessons learned from it.”

“We are inspired by safety through our work, and we believe the same for many others for which we are grateful. We would like to thank our safety lecturer, Chakib Kara-Zaitri for all his support and feedback.”

Chakib Kara-Zaitri is the Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bradford.

All SIESO Medal entries are reviewed by chemical engineers of the IChemE Loss Prevention Bulletin Editorial Panel, which is comprised of volunteer members.

Fiona Macleod, Chair of the Editorial Panel, said: “Congratulations to the winning team. The panel were impressed with their paper and unique popup book, which demonstrated a strong understanding of the range of process safety issues in this tragic incident. The team employed considerable ingenuity in constructing an interactive experience to make the lessons all the more memorable.

“Learning from process safety incidents is such an important part of engineering education. That’s why at IChemE we work closely with industry and academia to share knowledge of safety incidents, to pass on lessons learned from generation to generation, across engineering disciplines, and recognise achievements in process safety competence and communication.”

The SIESO Medal was launched last year, following a donation from the Society of Industrial Emergency Services Officers, which towards the end of its life used the term SIESO to promote itself as an organisation that Shared Information and Experience for Safer Operation. The organisation ceased operations in 2018 and bequeathed the bulk of its reserves to IChemE to help raise awareness of process safety among science, business, and engineering students.

Nominations for the 2021 SIESO Medal are open until 31 March 2021. Nominations for other 2021 medals and prizes close on 31 October. For more information, and to make nominations, visit the IChemE medals page.

A video showcasing the winning popup book and outlining the lessons it highlights is available on IChemE’s YouTube channel.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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