Thursday, May 22, 2008

Teaching Chemical Facility Security

I had mentioned in an earlier blog that "chemical engineering curriculums at most universities do not include any classes in facility security" (see: "Reader Questions 5-20-08"). Maybe it is time to consider changing that situation. Chemical companies and chemical facility management might be better able to do security management if they were better trained about security matters.

The Role of Consultants

Most chemical facilities are going to be using security consultants to help them to prepare their security vulnerability analysis (SVA) and site security plans. Many facilities will attempt to do this without outside assistance, but because of the specialized knowledge needed to complete these properly, most will end up hiring consultants.

The chemical industry is well acquainted with the use of consultants. The field of chemical engineering includes a wide variety of disciplines and specialties. No chemical facility has one of each on hand. When they need access to specialized information on a temporary basis, they rent consultants. When they need permanent access they hire a specialist.

The big difference between hiring chemical engineering consultants and security consultants is that all chemical engineers, regardless of discipline or specialty, share a common core of engineering knowledge. They speak the same language. The same is not true for chemical engineers and security consultants. Their backgrounds, their language, and their very mindset are completely different.

Introduction to Chemical Security 101

Plant managers are almost always chemical engineers. They have the schooling and operational experience in the various unit operations at their facility to be able to understand and manage the problems that arise on a day to day basis. One area where they do not have either the training nor experience (in most cases) is security operations.

This is where the chemical engineering schools can help out future facility managers. As part of their core curriculum they can add a survey course of facility security, Introduction to Chemical Security 101. The course would not make every engineer a security expert, but it would provide them with the core knowledge necessary to communicate with security professionals.

This course would look at things like:

  • Legal aspects of security
  • Perimeter security technology
  • Principals ofCyber Security
  • Personnel surety programs
  • Counter surveillance operations

Master’s Degree of Chemical Facility Security Management

What the industry really needs is a core of engineers that are as proficient in security management as they are in understanding chemical processes. This is going to require a lot more than a survey course in security. A master’s level program in security management would be a good career progression move for someone wanting to move into facility management.

Unfortunately, such a course does not yet exist. If it did, it would include courses such as:

  • Introduction to modern terrorism.
  • Introduction to intelligence analysis.
  • Vulnerability analysis
  • Site security planning.
  • Coordination planning with first responders.

It is time that the chemical engineering schools in this country start to consider adding chemical facility security courses to their curriculum. Their graduates would be better prepared to operate in the modern chemical-manufacturing environment.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */