Making Safety Second Nature

Expertise – Education & Training – Research – Service

The Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center is the world’s foremost university-based Process Safety Center. The Center serves industry, government, academia, and the public. The Center is a resource in education and research and provides service to all stakeholders. It is guided by a Steering Committee of consortium member companies and a Technical Advisory Committee of industry experts. Industry guidance ensures that Center activities are relevant to the actual practice of process safety. Over the past 20 years, the body of work created by the Center has to led to the inarguable recognition as an unbiased science-based organization focused on creating dialogue and consensus on difficult scientific topics, amongst all stakeholders.

The Center MS/PhD alumni are approaching 200, with current MS and PhD students nearing 100. The Center administers the Safety Engineering academic program, a multi-disciplinary endeavor consisting of a Master’s program as well as certificates for undergraduate and graduate students. From this program, a Process Safety Practice certificate program was developed for industry practitioners. To further networking and exchange of ideas, the Center hosts an Annual International Symposium, attracting over 600 individuals from industry, government, and academia annually.

Students are active participants in the symposium, Steering and Technical Advisory Committee meetings which enhances the student experience and has led to many successfully careers. The students are the Center’s most important product.

As a resource to stakeholders, the Center has authored hundreds of peer-reviewed journal publications, as well as symposium proceedings, white papers, and reports. A reference library is maintained for use by students and others consisting of 15,000 books, 15,000 articles, and various other resources. The Center also serves as a neutral forum for the discussion and dissemination of information regarding issues concerning process safety. The Director has testified before the US Congress and commented on legislative matters concerning process safety issues on various occasions.



  • Unbiased science-based forums for dialogue and consensus on difficult societal issues
  • Inform all stakeholders on policy issues based on science
  • Extend the Center’s impact and activities by establishing satellite centers
  • Evaluation/risk minimization service for businesses, government agencies, institutions, Local Emergency Planning Committees
  • Independent incident investigation and analysis for government, industries, and agencies


  • Conduct training programs, seminars, conferences
  • Host annual symposia
  • Develop industry courses, teach continuing education short courses onsite


  • Aerosols, mists, and dust explosions
  • Corrosion
  • Flammability
  • Human factors engineering
  • Inherently safer design and optimization
  • Offshore process safety
  • Reactive chemicals
  • Renewable energy
  • Resilient and sustainable engineering
  • Safety culture
  • Transportation and supply chain


  • Improve knowledge/awareness of process hazards and safety for all sectors of society
  • Assist other universities to establish education and research activities in sustainable engineering topics
  • Develop state-of-the-art education tools, undergraduate and graduate courses, continuing education programs