System Safety Engineering

Nancy Leveson

LOCATION AND DATE: Talaris Conference Center, Seattle, Washington, July 15-19, 2013

TEXTS: (1) N.G. Leveson, Safeware, Addison-Wesley, 1995 and (2) Engineering a Safer World, 2012.

DESCRIPTION: We are building systems today with increasing levels of complexity that are overwhelming standard approaches to ensuring safety. The causes of accidents are even changing. This class will cover fundamental concepts and techniques in building and ensuring safety, with particular emphasis on those aspects of complex systems not handled well by traditional system safety approaches, such as software and human-computer interaction. While physical systems will be the primary focus, dealing with social systems and safety culture will also be covered to some extent.

In the past 20 years of teaching this class, I have focused on traditional system safety engineering techniques but I've decided they just don't work well enough on complex and software-intensive systems to justify that. Instead I will only cover the new approaches described in my new book, Engineering a Safer World: Applying System Thinking to Safety These new, more powerful techniques are being used successfully on real, very complex systems and are proving to not only be more effective but also, somewhat surprisingly, to be less costly.

The goal of this class is not to learn how to satisfy a particular safety standard (although all the approaches taught will satisfy MIL-STD-882), but rather to gain enough deep understanding of the problem to be able to design a tailored program that will be most effective for your project. The class size will be limited to about 20 people to encourage interaction. Students will work on example problems in small groups.

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Leveson is a Professor in the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Dept. and in the MIT Engineering Systems Division and is head of the MIT System Safety Research Lab (SSRL). Previously, she was Boeing Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Dr. Leveson has worked in System Safety for 30 years. Before becoming a professor, she was a system engineer for IBM. Dr. Leveson consults widely on safety-critical systems for both government and industry and has worked with aerospace, nuclear power, energy and petroleum, transportation, aircraft, and medical systems. In 1995, Dr. Leveson was awarded the AIAA Information Systems Award for ``developing the field of software safety and system engineering practices where life and property are at stake.'' She received the 1999 ACM Allen Newell Award for "pioneering work in establishing the foundations of software safety," and the 2004 ACM Outstanding Software Research Award. In 1999, Dr. Leveson was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

For Additional Information Contact:

Dr. Nancy Leveson



Cost: $3250, which includes a copy of both textbooks; continental breakfast, break snacks, and a full lunch each day; lecture notes; and handouts. Early registration will ensure a place in the class (which will be limited to a maximum of 25). Checks or purchase orders should be made out to Safeware Engineering Corporation and sent to 180 Nickerson Street, Suite 110, Seattle, WA 98102-3748. Janet Bogar at Safeware Engineering Corp. will be handling logistics and can be contacted at or 206-328-4880.

Location: The class will be held at the

Talaris Conference Center (used to be the Aljoya Conf. Center)
4000 NE 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98105-5428
Tel: 206-268-7000

The conference center has 30 rooms but you need to book early as they tend to fill up (lodging is not included in the class fee). The rooms are basic but well equipped (including internet access) and the conference center grounds are beautiful. Otherwise, there are several hotels in the area and parking at Talaris. Some nearby hotels you might try (in my personal order of ranking with nicest first):

Silver Cloud Inn
5036 25th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Online reservations, internet and corporate rates, half mile to Talaris

Meany Tower Hotel
4507 Brooklyn Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98105
One mile to Talaris



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