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Education to experience exchange: part two

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Part one available here.

A similar initiative as the Advanced Master Class on Process Safety was also taken, but this time with the intention to reach first and second year European Master Students of Engineering. This one week course on the more general aspects of safety, but including process safety, is presented in the ATHENS (Advanced Technology Higher Education Network/SOCRATES) Network framework that is composed of 14 European technological universities or institutions. Its principal goal is to facilitate the exchange of students, professors and researchers among the major European technological universities.

Experience exchange platform

DPA also took the initiative to start and manage an experience exchange platform with relevance to the chemical industry. To this end, six workshop meetings are organisedannually, dealing with actual and important topics related to process safety. Every meeting includes three presentations followed by a workshop, where the audience is divided into groups of 10. In each group a discussion is started under guidance in order to collect information and exchange experiences concerning the topic at hand. The conclusions reached by each group in the workshop are presented to the full audience and after each meeting a synthesis report is sent to all participants, as well as DPA management. Theworkshop is limited to 70 persons per session. A necessary requirement to be able to attend the workshop meeting is that participants either hold a management position in acompany or are professionally involved with the topic under discussion. In order to allow for the voluntary and spontaneous exchange of information and sharing of experiences about the presented incidents among the participants, no stakeholders from the government or from regulatory bodies are invited.


The members of the governance board of DPA play an important role in the different programmes. The governance board consists of several managers and process safety specialists from the chemical process industry within essenscia. The board reflects at least twice a year to define industry needs and to discuss relevant topics and possible training programmes. It is also responsible for the financial funding of DPA.

The future

Solving the time constraints, and other weaker areas, of the Advanced Master Class on Process Safety is proving difficult within the existing timeframe. Developing additional modular courses that each approach several different aspects of process safety in more depth will be a solution. A factor that should also be considered is the connection of the theory with the application of process safety standards in industrial practice. Therefore, in the future it is important on the one hand to maintain and improve the academic education on process safety, and on the other hand to start up practical modular courses within the industry. Over the coming years, open source training modules related to process safety will be developed within the industry. The main challenge regarding the workshops involves maintaining the existing high level of quality together with the voluntary exchange of experiences and lessons learned. Process safety should be acknowledged by every member in an organisation, so the development of a range of courses suitable for different target audiences also deserves attention.


After three years of organising the Advanced Master Class on Process Safety, DPA is satisfied with the large number of participants and with their positive evaluation of it on two levels, according to Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model. Inherently associated with this type of course is the selective content due to time constraints and the nature of the chemical process industry. The experience exchange platform plays an important role in benchmark discussions and is very useful for the exchange of information related to process safety.

Written by Geert Boogaerts, Geert Vercruysse, and Jan Degrève. This is an abridged article taken from the December 2015 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. Subscribers can sign in to access the complete version.

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