Learning about Engineering Disasters while Enhancing Communication Skills

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Learning about Engineering Disasters while Enhancing Communication Skills


First and second year Civil Engineering students in the School of

Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB)

participated in a Disasters and Hazards Exercise on 13-15 December

2016, which was sponsored by Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) Ltd.


This student–based learning exercise was developed by Professor Allen

Jennings at QUB in 1994. Over the past 22 years, disasters have been

used in this event to identify hazards and determine technical and human

causes. Impacts on civil engineering practice are also examined, so that

students learn to appreciate the responsibilities of engineers and other

professionals. Students were placed into groups and investigated three

disasters and their associated hazards. The groups were advised during

consultation sessions with engineering faculty, external practising engineers,

health and safety professionals in the engineering and construction industry,

and a representative from the Health and Safety Executive (Northern Ireland)

who bring a wealth of experience to the exercise. These meetings

ensured that the students understood the importance of their findings and

helped them focus on the activity.  Students gave group presentations

and prizes were awarded to the best groups and best individual speakers.


The coordination of the event was led by Dr Debra Phillips.

Please contact d.phillips@qub.ac.uk for more details.

Period01 Jun 2017

Media contributions


Media contributions


  • Engineering
  • teaching methodologies
  • Disasters and Hazards
  • Communication Skills