Status of Reliability Education                                              Fred Schenkelberg                     FMS Rel...
There are many other journals. Titles like Reliability          and others as a service to the reliability community or as...
Handbook of Reliability Engineering and Management            9. Online discussion groups and forums[8], and Practical Rel...
Reliability Division’s Reliability Review has just published       a Hybrid approach. A mix of formal courses, a selection...
missing to permit the valuation of a specific tool in a            and Judgment in Engineering, Cambridge Universityspecif...
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2012 IEDEC Status of Reliability Education


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A short paper on the 2012 Status of Reliability Eduction.

Reliability is an engineering discipline that encompasses a broad array of tools and techniques useful for answering durability and robustness type questions. Product development teams often rely on reliability engineering professionals to guide, advise and manage reliability programs. Reliability is a facet in nearly every function of an organization. This implies the knowledge and skills required for the reliability engineer is comprehensive and the knowledge breadth may have to span aspects of material science in design constraint considerations to warranty reverse logistics.
How do engineers become reliability professionals? What are the knowledge transfer options available to the reliability profession? How do we get started and maintain our knowledge? In this short paper, I summarize what’s available, a couple of common paths taken to become a reliability professional, and highlight the strengths and a few weaknesses concerning reliability education. Note: This is my view of the state of reliability education.

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2012 IEDEC Status of Reliability Education

  1. 1. Status of Reliability Education Fred Schenkelberg FMS Reliability, 15466 Los Gatos Blvd #109-371, Los Gatos, CA USA E-mail: fms@fmsreliability.comAbstract 2. University programs Reliability is an engineering discipline that encompasses There are elements of reliability engineering in manya broad array of tools and techniques useful for answering engineering undergraduate programs, yet there are nodurability and robustness type questions. Product degrees at the under-graduate level that I know of, indevelopment teams often rely on reliability engineering reliability engineering. Also, many electrical, mechanical,professionals to guide, advise and manage reliability civil, or software engineering programs may briefly discussprograms. Reliability is a facet in nearly every function of or mention reliability as part of the program of study;an organization. This implies the knowledge and skills however, one can imagine that many students have shiedrequired for the reliability engineer is comprehensive and away from a reliability engineering focus after having takenthe knowledge breadth may have to span aspects of material the initial required probability and statistics in design constraint considerations to warranty An education in reliability engineering may includereverse logistics. classes in materials science, design engineering, process How do engineers become reliability professionals? engineering, maintenance engineering, finance andWhat are the knowledge transfer options available to the accounting, and a dash of marketing and sales, to name justreliability profession? How do we get started and maintain a few. An advanced degree is a great start for a career inour knowledge? In this short paper, I summarize what’s reliability engineering and, when combined with workavailable, a couple of common paths taken to become a experience in another engineering discipline, makes for areliability professional, and highlight the strengths and a few very strong resume.weaknesses concerning reliability education. Note: This is The University of Maryland’s reliability program, undermy view of the state of reliability education. the aegis of the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE), continues to offer advanced degrees in reliabilityKeywords engineering. Place, reliability, education, reliability engineer The University of Tennessee’s Maintenance and1. Introduction Reliability Center has partnered with Monash University, Reliability engineering is a broad endeavor. Reliability Australia’s largest university and an accredited member ofengineers typically work to either determine how long a Australia’s “Big Eight” (UT/Monash University) to offer aproduct will last, or determine how the product will fail. Master’s Degree in Maintenance & Reliability EngineeringBoth of these questions require the reliability engineer have as well as graduate certificates in Reliability Engineeringsufficient knowledge from design, statistics, procurement, and Maintenance Management.manufacturing, plus marketing, field service and Other programs of note include those at Rutgersmanagement. Reliability engineers work across the product University, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Vanderbiltlifecycle and across the entire organization. University, University of Arkansas and Arizona State. Learning how to become an effective reliability engineer Additionally, the University of Arizona offers a few courseshas many options. This short paper does not intend to fully with reliability content. Internationally, one can findcatalogue all available education opportunities, rather to advanced degree programs, for example from the Indianhighlight the available formats and venues. And, there is a Institute of Technology. Most of these programs have aplethora of options available for one interested in learning particular focus, systems or quality engineering,about reliability. maintenance or risk management. See the Higher Education As a profession reliability professionals publish and page at for a short list ofshare knowledge. There are technical journals, conferences advanced degree programs and contacts. [1]and books that capture knowledge in a way we can readily 3. Journalsreference. There are seminars, local meetings, discussion Technometrics, the IEEE Transaction on Reliability andgroups, forums, and webinars that permit us to listen to Quality Engineering (QE) come to mind immediately for melectures and to discuss alternative views and options. On the and many of you may recognize them as well. QE hasjob training and mentoring play a significant role, also. recently agreed to publish reliability papers regularly andThere are formal education options, too. Universities and has included a small team of reliability professionals on thecolleges offer seminars, workshops, courses and full degree editorial board. Whereas the first two journals tend toprograms related to reliability engineering. publish technical papers that focus more on the academic This paper will discuss and provide examples of a variety end of the scale, QE expects to publish reliability applicationof options available today. Then discuss briefly what is articles.missing and a few ideas looking toward the future.
  2. 2. There are many other journals. Titles like Reliability and others as a service to the reliability community or as aEngineering & System Safety by Elsevier or Journal of part of their business strategy.Machinery Manufacture and Reliability by Springer suggest When asked, I tend to recommend three conferences.a reliability focus for the journal’s articles. It is safe to say Keeping in mind that many working professionals may onlythere is a robust peer reviewed technical journal community. attend one conference a year, getting the most for your time Journals are also published by professional societies, is important. Unless your needs are very specific, forconsultancies and businesses. Some of these journals rival example testing color fastness of polymers, you may findthe peer-reviewed technical journals mentioned above, and these three conferences useful to attend on an ongoing basis.they tend to focus on the sponsoring organization’s focus. The Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium,For example, the RiAC Journal is published by the in its 57th year in 2011, is a multi-track 3.5 days conferenceReliability Information Analysis Center. Another example is complete with technical papers, tutorials and vendor tradethe Journal of Reliability, Maintainability, and show. [2] The conference regularly attracts 400 or moreSupportability in Systems Engineering published by the participants, making it a great place for networking. TheRMS Partnership. Both of these journals tend to focus on paper presentations are typically 20 to 30 minutes, making itmilitary applications. possible to learn about a wide range of topics from many Businesses related to reliability engineering have a few speakers. The tutorials are typically two hours long andjournals type publications available. For example, permit time to cover a lot of material. Nine professionalReliaSoft’s Reliability Edge Newsletter and DfR Solution’s societies sponsor this conference and it is held at variousNewsletter both provide technical information and education locations in the US, once a year – IF you can only attend oneand are free to join the subscription list. conference a year, go to RAMS. Trade journals also publish reliability articles. These tend The International Applied Reliability Symposium (ARS)to be more introductory than the scholarly or technical is a three-day multi-track conference with hour-longjournals, yet tend to have a wider audience outside the presentations. [3] The longer format provides time for an in-reliability profession. The article “Inverter Risk Factors: depth treatment of the topic. The speakers are generallyWhat to Consider Beyond MTBF Numbers” is in a recent experienced reliability professionals and tend to provideissue of the Solar Industry trade journal. Circuits Assembly applied or tutorial type presentations. The ARS is hostedprovided me with many introductory printed circuit annually in the US, Brazil, Singapore, Amsterdam andassembly reliability articles over the years. Bangalore. Locations vary year to year yet continue to have Whether you want to be published or simple keep up a presence around the world.with the reliability profession, journals provide a vibrant, The Workshop on Accelerated Stress Testing &timely and broad spectrum of views across our industry. Reliability (ASTR) focuses on accelerated testing fromMost of the technical articles are written for an audience that Highly Accelerated Life Testing to accelerated degradationis well versed in the discipline discussed. And the trade testing, including the equipment, techniques andjournal and newsletters tend to be more introductory and for measurement equipment necessary for successful testing. [4]a broad range of readership. This is a three-day single track conference and tends to include very practical topics.4. Conferences Capacitor and Resister Technology Symposium, now Over the past 20 years I’ve explored many reliability known simply as CARTS [5]; International Reliabilityconferences. At times, via the www.reliabilitycalendar.orgsite, I’ve attempted to maintain a calendar of all reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS) [6].conferences and building and maintaining the site and the International Symposium for Testing and over the past year has been Analysis (ITSFA) [7], would be the next three on my list ofeducational in itself. The vast majority of conferences are recommendations. They focus on passive electronicvery focused on a particular industry or discipline and, as components, microelectronics, and failure analysisyou may already know, conferences are typically scheduled respectively. Of course, depending on your interests, thein the spring or fall and tend not to be located at tropical industry you work in or support, and budget you may findresorts. one or more of these options suitable for participation. It is possible to find at least one conference every week, Conference attendance has been down for the past fewsomewhere, in the world. A few years ago two conferences years mostly due to the recession. There are signs thaton prognostics with respect to product reliability started: attendance will rebound this year, as a reflection of the needIEEE’s International Conference on Prognostics and Health for professionals to continue to learn, network and discussManagement and Annual Conference of the Prognostics and reliability topics.Health Management Society. The solar industry has recently 5. Booksseen a significant rise in the number of conferences To get an idea of how many books are available on theavailable. topic of reliability engineering, I searched Google Books for Most professional societies related to reliability have at reliability engineering. Two things to note from this search -least one annual conference. Some businesses are also Google returned 615,000 results and the two books I use andoffering conferences, some have a trade journal affiliation recommend most often were on the first page.Schenkelberg, Status of Reliability Education
  3. 3. Handbook of Reliability Engineering and Management 9. Online discussion groups and forums[8], and Practical Reliability Engineering, [9] are texts that Since the start of the Internet, there have beenaddress most of the aspects of reliability engineering. Each newsgroups, discussion boards, email lists and forumsdiscusses the basic approaches to guide professionals across available for the reliability professional to stay in touch withthe product life cycle, contain brief discussions on a broad other professionals. The format is great for the occasionalrange of tools and techniques and you will find both on the question, permitting possibly hundreds of professionals tobookshelves of many reliability professionals. address. Often a reasonable response or two is available The options for books include general-purpose books, within a day or two. Discussion boards such as the IEEEplus many very narrowly focused texts on specific tools or Reliability Society Yahoo Group [11] or the ASQ Reliabilityindustries, or both. For example there are books on Failure Division Linkedin group [12] are open to any interestedModes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) in a general nature, party. These forums have also attracted regular job postingsplus texts on FMEA in the automotive industry or medical as the audience is primarily working professionals.industry. The options for reliability statistics also have a Discussions, announcements, and job postings create a fairlyvery broad range, from introductory treatments for any light traffic format, yet permit the individual to tap theengineer, to highly specialized, narrow branches of the art. collective information of the subscribers. Like the overall book market, e-books are becoming Webinars - The combination of a teleconference with theincreasingly available, albeit at a slow pace. In a few web enabled broadcast of the slides with annotations permitsyears it may be possible to carry a complete library of a disperse audience to hear a speaker and see their slides.professional textbooks along on your favorite e-reader. Tools offered by Webex, GotoMeeting and other others permit seminars to occur via your computer and phone.6. Seminars Some organizations charge a fee for high quality Small, local and personal meetings to learn about a topic webinars by noted presenters. Costs typically range fromseem to be thriving. Face to face meetings are increasingly $50 to $200 an hour. Hobbs Engineering and Paton Press arebeing supplemented with a growing calendar of two examples. Other organizations offer free webinars eitherteleconferences and webinars. A broad range of consultants, as a service to their customers or their members. The ASQvendors, laboratories, consortiums, and professional Reliability Division is offering monthly webinars in Englishsocieties provide reliability training via seminars. These can and Mandarin, plus short courses for free. [10] Theserange from an hour local meeting to discuss a particular webinars provide a means to receive similar content astopic to a full week long structured instructor led course. attending a conference or local seminar or meeting, without A group of volunteers attempt to maintain a Google the travel. Some are also recorded and available online oncalendar with all reliability conferences, seminars, courses, demand.meetings, etc. [10] The service has the capability for The pricing, content and presentation styles are all inindividuals to subscribe to the calendar or search by city, flux and many groups are experimenting with this relativelyregion, or dates. new format to provide training. The mix of free or paid,7. Courses advertising or training, introductory or advance, and Face to face instructor led classes typically range from a formats, durations, etc. are all being explored and adapted tohalf day to a week in duration. For example, MET Labs find what works. We should expect to see this area continueoffers short seminars on standards based testing methods. A to evolve and grow.few organizations, such as Technology Training, Inc. (TTI), 10. Newslettersoffer courses on a broad range of reliability topics. And There seem to be two types of newsletters independent ofothers offer courses related to using their primary the source. One provides news of events, products activitiesproduct(s), e.g., Relex or Minitab classes on how to use their and announcements. These newsletters help the professionalsoftware. keep current on what is happening based on the view of the Courses provided by non-academic institutions are, with newsletter editors. The second type provides content that ismore frequency, offering certifications. These are based educational in some manner. These newsletters providetypically on the successful completion of a series of courses. tutorials, problem solution approaches, guides, or technicalExamples are certification programs offered by ReliaSoft articles. Of course many newsletters combine the two typesand TTI. Not all seminars or courses offer professional of content. As far as I know, all newsletters are either free orengineers CEU’s, although many could. a benefit of membership.8. Local meetings/discussion groups/forums Ops A La Carte, RiAC, ReliaSoft, Relex, and many In areas where there is a sufficiency of active volunteers, others offer free newsletters. Nearly all professionallocal meetings are regularly organized and offered. Most are organizations offer a newsletter, often electronically, foron a monthly basis and have invited speakers that cover their members. RMSP, for example, publishes antopics of interest locally. Houston meetings may focus on informative newsletter with short technical articlesthe oil industry, Wichita on private jets, San Jose on high quarterly. The RMSP newsletter is a benefit of This is a traditional means to network, learn and Two notable newsletters with great technical contentcontribute to the greater discussion concerning the reliability have ceased. It’s been a few years since I’ve received theprofession. IEEE, ASQ, and SRE are all active in this area. Society of Reliability Engineers’ newsletter. And, the ASQSchenkelberg, Status of Reliability Education
  4. 4. Reliability Division’s Reliability Review has just published a Hybrid approach. A mix of formal courses, a selection oftheir last issue. Both found it increasingly difficult to find seminars and conferences, plus self study and experience. Ifsuitable technical articles to publish. one is lucky a mentor is discovered and cultivated. Blogs on reliability are available by a few writers, yet it All three approaches produce excellent reliabilityis not a prevalent practice. Ricky Smith’s Maintenance and professionals along with the full spectrum of performanceReliability blog [13] or The Reliable Plant Blog [14] being abilities. Those that continue to take advantage of learningexamples. A Google search for ‘reliability blog’ finds an opportunities tend to continue to advance their career.assorted array of blogs with reliability in the title of theparticular discussion with only a few blogs devoted to 13. What is missing? From my own experience, I learn from product failuresreliability topics exclusively. and an understanding of the root cause involved. Henry11. Mentors Petroski has written about design engineers that avoid Having a mentor or two during your career provides an design failures by a routine of studying failures. I highlyaccelerated means to gain experience and guidance. Without recommend both To Engineer is Human and Designa mentor you may learn the ‘hard way’, meaning you may Paradigms, found at Amazon or many other bookstores.make your share of mistakes. A mentor provides a sounding [15]board, reality check, insightful guidance and possibly A few years ago, the local IEEE Reliability Societyfriendship. Some companies provide mentorship as part of chapter meeting was the day prior to Halloween and thethe culture. For example an opening for a Reliability discussion topic was ‘Reliability Horror Stories’. The intentEngineering Group Leader job listing recently included the was to share the best failures in story form with each other.role of ‘mentors the development...’ We are too often thwarted from discussing failures. In discussions with other reliability professionals, Product failure discussion may reduce product sales or leadlearning from a mentor is often cited as a major element of to liability claims. Management or design failures leading totheir professional development. Courses, seminars and reliability issues may lead to politically charged discussionsconferences provide the tools, and the mentor provided and reorganizations. While attempting to focus on the datawisdom in the selection and application of those tools. and the root cause, reliability failures still invoke a need to assign blame. Furthermore, discussing failures tends to12. Where do Reliability Engineers come from? dwell on the negative aspects of the process. Yes, it provides Other engineering fields provide the majority of a much richer learning atmosphere, yet unless done in areliability professionals. Degrees in physics, math, statistics,electrical or mechanical engineering and many others are “safe environment” may be career limiting.common across our profession. In my case, and common Likewise, a discussion on very robust and reliablewith a few other reliability engineers that I know, when I product achievements is rare. A few products have beenasked how they became reliability engineers, it was by notable and marketed accordingly; the HP calculator is onehappenstance. The engineering problems that were available example. Very few products are able to maintain aand interesting to me were of a reliability nature. Finding the significant edge in the market on the basis of being moreprojects both interesting and rewarding, I sought additional reliable. Individual products are even more difficult toprojects in the reliability area. While working as a design for identify. The evidence is often the lack of higher thanmanufacturing engineer, I found that field reliability expected field returns.improvement often coincided with yield improvements for In general, what is missing is the ability of our professionassembly. And, I found the cost savings by reducing field to talk openly about reliability performance, good or bad.failures made a compelling argument for process We certainly can learn from failures, and we can emulate theimprovement investments rather than simply yield successful achievements, if possible to learn about both.improvements. Failure data and information, not MTBF, is often This path to become a reliability professional requires missing. For a particular design, what is most likely to failthe willingness to continue to learn, the ability to learn and how? What is the failure mechanism and associatedquickly and the desire to contribute in the solving of difficult stresses that will limit the useful life? Vendors will gladlycross discipline design problems. list the performance specifications and are often very A few university programs offer degrees in reliability reluctant (ignorance, embarrassment, perception) toengineering. These programs provide a solid grounding in articulate expected failure specifics. Vendors gladly listthe wide array of tools and techniques in the reliability testing that only has no-failures, leaving the recipient toprofession. The students are a mix of working professionals wonder if the test and associated stress was valid to the mostand students continuing from undergraduate work. Like the likely failure mechanisms.above career development path, a formal education also Value or ROI guidance is generally missing within ourrequires the desire to learn. The one complaint I’ve heard training, textbooks and discussions. What is the value of aand experienced concerning this path is the over-reliance on well run Design FMEA session? In a culture of tightadvanced tools to address issues. What is missing is the timelines and budgets the time to conduct a Design FMEA isability to select the appropriate tools and analysis to readily estimated, yet the value received is difficult toeconomically solve an issue - ‘Not everything is a thesis’ - predict. The same applies to many of the reliability tools in(Anon by choice). A few reliability professionals have taken common use. A general set of guidelines or algorithms isSchenkelberg, Status of Reliability Education
  5. 5. missing to permit the valuation of a specific tool in a and Judgment in Engineering, Cambridge Universityspecific application. Press, Cambridge, 199414. Summary The reliability profession is rich in learningopportunities. Books, websites, journals, conferences, etc.all provide a mix of introductory and advanced materials. Asall fields of engineering and design continue to invent newmaterials and novel assemblies, the reliability professionalwill have to continue to learn how to best apply theappropriate tools and techniques to solve problems. Despite the barriers to freely sharing failure information,we do readily share approaches, algorithms, techniques andtools. We share our experience and our wisdom as we enrichour professional community. In general our education permits us to address twoquestions of value: What will fail, and when will it fail? It isin the details of providing answers that we provide value.Our profession’s rich education opportunities permit us toeffectively and efficiently answer these two questions on anongoing basis.9. References[1] dar/Higher_Education/Higher_Education.html, date viewed, January 12, 2012.[2], date viewed, January 12, 2012.[3], date viewed, January 12, 2012.[4], date viewed, January 12, 2012.[5], date viewed, January 12, 2012.[6], date viewed January 12, 2012.[7], date viewed January 12, 2012.[8] Ireson, W.G., Coombs, C. F., and Moss, R. Y., Handbook of Reliability Engineering and Management, 2nd Edition, McGraw Hill, New York, 1996.[9] O’Connor, P., Kleyner, A., Practical Reliability, 5th Edition, Wiley, New York, 2012.[10], date viewed, January 12, 2012.[11] ociety/, date viewed, January 12, 2012.[12] 5217, date viewed, January 12, 2012.[13] reliability.html, date viewed, January 12, 2012.[14], date viewed, January 12, 2012.[15] Petroski, H., To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, Vintage, New York, 1992, and Design Paradigms: Case Histories of ErrorSchenkelberg, Status of Reliability Education