Vanderbilt University (USA)

Reliability and Risk Engineering and Management

 Overview: Vanderbilt University’s multidisciplinary graduate program in reliability and risk engineering, analysis, and management was initially funded by the National Science Foundation under the IGERT initiative. The program has twenty faculty participants drawn from three different schools: School of Engineering (all engineering departments), Owen Graduate School of Management, and the College of Arts and Sciences (Mathematics, Psychology, Economics). Several prominent research groups in the campus participate in this unique graduate program, such as the CRESP multi-university consortium on nuclear waste risk management, Institute for Space Defense Electronics, Institute for Software Integrated Systems, VECTOR Transportation Research Center, and the Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Systems. Since 2001, 54 students have been enrolled in this graduate program, with 12 students at present. The 42 graduates so far include 32 Ph.D. and 12 M.S. students.

 Research: The research theme consists of three inter-linked areas: (1) large systems reliability and risk, (2) device- and component-level reliability, and (3) uncertainty analysis methods. The multidisciplinary graduate program emphasizes (1) use of modeling and simulation methods for reliability and risk assessment, (2) systematic integration of models and tools across disciplines, and (3) inclusion of economic, legal, regulatory, and social perspectives. The research projects develop these methodologies for infrastructure, environmental, network, mechanical, aerospace, electronic, and business systems. The research projects have been funded by government agencies (NSF, NASA, FAA, DOD, DOE, DOT, NRC), national laboratories (Sandia, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Idaho), and private industry (Boeing, GM, Chrysler, Union Pacific).

 Education: The educational goals are to broaden the training with multidisciplinary perspectives, enhance communication and knowledge transfer between multiple disciplines, embed information technology and high performance computing in coursework and research, and include economic, legal, regulatory, and social perspectives. The educational activities include multidisciplinary coursework and dissertation topics, laboratory rotations, industry and government laboratory internships, seminars, national workshops, case study discussions, training in professional communication and ethics. In addition to disciplinary and basic courses in probability, statistics and reliability, advanced graduate courses include: Probabilistic methods in engineering design, Advanced reliability methods, Engineering optimization, Risk and reliability case studies, Risk and reliability seminar, Detection and estimation theory, Environmental risk assessment, Operational risk management, Risk and Environmental Regulation, and Business risk management.

 Sankaran Mahadevan, Director; John R. Murray Sr. Professor of Engineering, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Box 1831-B, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA; Phone: (615)-322-3040; Email:; website: