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NE 175

Course Title: 
Methods of Risk Analysis
Course Units: 
Catalog Description: 
  • Methodological approaches for the quantification of technological risk and risk based decision-making. Probabilistic safety assessment, human health risks, environmental and ecological risk analysis.
Course Prerequisite: 
  • Upper-division standing
Prerequisite Knowledge and/or Skills: 
  • The course provides a general introduction to risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Lower-division math, physics and chemistry, and an introduction to probability and statistics.
Course Objectives: 
  • Introduce students to the meaning of risk, its mathematical formulations and how it is used to manage the societal impacts, including risk, cost and benefit, of modern technologies.
  • Introduce students to the construction and quantification of fault and event trees.
  • Introduce students to methods of consequence analysis, including multi-pathway exposure assessment.
  • Introduce students to the principles of risk communication and risk perception.
Course Outcomes: 
  • Construct and quantify fault and event trees for nuclear and other engineered systems including structures, systems and components.
  • Quantify consequences of release scenarios, including multimedia exposure for toxic and radioactive materials in the biosphere.
  • Apply risk based decision methods to nuclear and other engineered systems for the determination of cost/benefit and risk/benefit considerations.
  • Communicate the results of risk analyses to multi-stakeholders
Topics Covered: 
  • Definitions and measures of risk
  • Probabilistic safety assessment, fault and event trees, consequence analysis, risk integration
  • Environmental and public health risk assessment, source terms, environmental fate and transport, exposure assessment, health risk assessment
  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Risk based regulations, risk informed decision making
  • Risk management, decision trees, influence diagrams, multi-attribute decision theory
  • Uncertainty and variability in risk assessment and risk management
  • Case studies: nuclear systems, environmental systems and chemical systems
Textbook(s) and/or Other Required Materials: 
  • A course reader is available prior to each offering
Class/Laboratory Schedule: 
  • This is a lecture course and meets two times a week for 2-hour lectures (with a 10-minute break after the first hour).
Contribution of Course to Meeting the Professional Component: 
  • This course helps the student to identify the costs, risks and benefits of nuclear and other engineered technical systems. Student can quantify the impacts of the technologies they are developing. Introduces students to risk-based regulation that is becoming the hallmark for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other government agencies such as the US EPA.
Relationship of Course to Degree Program Objectives: 
  • This course contributes to the NE program objectives by providing education in a fundamental area (probabilistic risk assessment) important for a career in nuclear engineering. It does not provide students with direct design experience, but includes substantial discussion and illustration of design issues. The central theme of safety analysis also generates discussion of environmental and contemporary issues for nuclear energy.
Assessment of Student Progress Toward Course Objectives: 
  • Homework every other week: 10%
  • Midterm exam: 30%
  • Final Exam: 60%