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Nationnal Engineers Week

2010 National Engineers Week Dinner Meeting

Speaker: Tom Ferrell, consulting Designated Engineering Representative (DER) for the Federal Aviation Administration

Subject: "Engineering Safety-Critical Systems in the 21st Century" - View Presentation - 705 KB PDF


Everywhere you look technology safeguards human life in the systems we interact with everyday.  Whether its lockouts in signal crossings, flight controls on aircraft, or life-sustaining medical equipment, safety-critical systems rely on a combination of fail-safe design, rigorous engineering processes, and appropriate consideration of the interaction with the end-user.  This talk will explore what it takes to develop safety-critical systems in today’s engineering environment.  While technical considerations will be touched on, the focus of this talk, intended for more of a general audience, will focus on the need for a healthy safety culture, the engineering ethical compass, and the need for a healthy dose of skepticism when employing technology as a line of defense against bad things happening.  These items, as much or more than the pure technology, are what make good safety-critical systems work.

Speaker's Bio:

Tom Ferrell, is a consulting Designated Engineering Representative (DER) for the Federal Aviation Administration.  He has over twenty years of experience in the design, verification, and certification of flight controls, display, and navigation systems.  His current assignments include compliance oversight of the 787 electric brake actuation system and the next generation of Global Positioning System (GPS) space vehicle complex electronic hardware.  Mr. Ferrell holds a BS in electrical engineering, an MS in IT management, and an MA in history.  Mr. Ferrell, along with his wife (and fellow DER), own and operate FAA Consulting, Inc. in Charlottesville.

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