More than a year ago, Martha Bidez, a University of Alabama-Birmingham engineering professor, envisioned a new online master’s-degree track to focus explicitly on disaster prevention and systems safety. In early 2010, she began to develop its curriculum and recruit industry experts with experience in high-profile catastrophes to advise and teach. The program, the first such track in the U.S., say university officials, was inspired by a fatal blast in 2005 at a refinery owned by oil giant BP. Now the firm’s latest disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is imparting new momentum to the plans. Preventing disasters such as BP’s
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.