Notes from the STAMP 2012 Workshop

Michael Stone, April 22, 2012, , (src), (all posts)

Earlier this week, I was privileged to attend the 2012 STAMP Workshop (materials), organized by Prof. Nancy Leveson and her tireless students Blandine, John T., John H., Qi, Cody, and Bill, (presumably along with several others who I was not fortunate enough to get to know).

The subject of the workshop was accidents, understood as “unplanned and unacceptable loss events”.

The attendees came from all over the world and from sectors as diverse as the aerospace, automotive, transportation, chemical process, food safety, medical devices, and the military and public sectors.

The common cause for the workshop was provided by Nancy’s wonderful book, published earlier this year by MIT Press, entitled “Engineering a Safer World” (pdf), on how to think about accidents, accident reporting, and accident prevention in complex socio-technical systems like those found in each of the industries mentioned above.

My favorite talks were presented by Lane Desborough, on the development of an artificial pancreas and by Dr. Qi Hommes, on adaptive cruise control.

Following the workshop, I’m also looking forward to future research collaborations with John Thomas (whose PhD research on software support for safety analysis is very near my own heart) and Col. Bill Young (whose research on cyberwarfare seems quite professionally relevant.)

Next, in the hope of getting even more out of next year’s conference, three things that I would enjoy helping to organize for next year include:

  1. improving slide readability and presentation length, e.g., by

    • creating and distributing a style guide for presentations, e.g., to recommend reasonable font-sizes and to help with diagram layout and

    • offering optional 5 minute length and readability reviews so that presenters get more definite feedback in advance of their presentations

  2. providing a shared text channel (e.g., via Etherpad) for the collaborative development of notes by audience members, and

  3. soliciting and distributing “recommended reading” from all presenters (or even all attendees) so that we can better prepare the way for future collaboration and learning.

Last but not least, thanks again to Nancy and the other workshop organizers for all that they’ve done to make the first event a success: you all should be really, really proud of the work you’ve done and of where your ideas are going!