The Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Laboratory participated in the 2018 Engineering Undergraduate Research Resource Fair, where they discussed their research with undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. SoTeRiA is a research lab directed by Zahra Mohaghegh, an assistant professor of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) and a faculty affiliate of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The SoTeRiA Lab is dedicated to positioning UIUC as a global leader in socio-technical risk analysis. This laboratory has a large and diverse team of both undergraduate and graduate students from multidisciplinary backgrounds that work interdependently to uphold and further SoTeRiA’s mission: to provide scientific and innovative research solutions to complex real-world problems of safety, reliability, security, and profitability.
At the research fair, SoTeRiA team members introduced many undergraduates to the concept of “Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA)” and shared their experiences on its application to real-world scenarios. Students were able to see the benefits of risk analysis while getting a better understanding of specific SoTeRiA Lab research projects. The attendees got to speak with Grant Schumock, an undergraduate researcher in SoTeRiA Lab and Informatics Research Fellow, about his research on Uncertainty Quantification. Attendees also got to see SoTeRiA’s ongoing research project sponsored by the National Science Foundation on organizational risk analysis, and research supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) on Systematic Enterprise Risk Analysis. As part of the DOE project, graduate student Wen-Chi Cheng, and undergraduate Mateo Kajic discussed their current progress on the development of a computational platform for predicting and monitoring nuclear power plants’ system health tool.
The SoTeRiA Lab’s two key areas of methodological developments include (1) spatio-temporal causal modeling of social and physical failure mechanisms in PRA, and (2) the fusion of big data analytics with PRA. This research helps industry identify the underlying causes of failure in operations and maintenance by quantifying the associated risk and determine cost-effective responses to these risks. This process improves risk-informed design and decision making. The SoTeRiA Lab’s on-going research applications for U.S. nuclear power plants include Fire PRA, Human Reliability Analysis and Organizational Risk Assessment, Common Cause Failure Modeling, Risk Importance Measure Analysis, Risk-Informed Emergency Response, and the Monetary Value of PRA. More information about these projects can be found on the SoTeRiA Lab website (http://soteria.npre.illinois.edu/).
At this Engineering Research Fair there was great interest in SoTeRiA Lab research opportunities for undergraduates. The undergraduate candidates ranged from nuclear, industrial, mechanical engineering backgrounds to computer science and statistics backgrounds. Many students showed interest in using applied risk analysis concepts, while some were interested in the methodological, statistical and computational aspects of the research.
Candidates that would like to join the SoTeRiA team are encouraged to submit a pre-interview survey which briefly explains SoTeRiA Lab processes for onboarding new students, and digs deeper into the candidate’s motivations for wanting to advance the science of risk analysis.
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