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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

WJU to Lead Mining Research Project

Fri Sep 30 2011

Wheeling Jesuit University's two sponsored programs will team up to improve how research on mining safety gets disseminated to the mining community itself, thanks to a nearly $150,000 contract awarded recently.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has awarded the university a contract of $148,823 through its Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR). The National Technology Transfer Center and the Center for Educational Technologies will work together on the project. J. Davitt McAteer, vice president for sponsored programs at WJU and an internationally recognized expert on mining safety, will serve as principal investigator on the research study. Earlier this year McAteer delivered the report of his team's independent investigation into the Upper Big Branch disaster that killed 29 miners in West Virginia in March 2010. McAteer had been appointed by then West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III to lead the investigation, as he had in 2006 with his investigation of the Sago and Aracoma mine disasters.

The approved research study is titled, "A Systems Approach to Facilitate Effective Transfer of Recent Research Findings to the Mining Community." Dr. Laurie Ruberg, associate director of the Center for Educational Technologies, who will lead the research and evaluation, said the project involves two parts.

First, the team will systematically analyze documentation of mining-related research and development. Then, with guidance from the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, the team will identify ways to better transfer the most salient innovations to those who can benefit from it most—the mining community.

"This funding will provide recommendations for improving the effectiveness of information dissemination among mining researchers, government overseers, and industry worksites," Ruberg said. "Our team will work closely with the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research."

Altogether, the project includes four key personnel with complementary expertise. In addition to McAteer and Ruberg, James A. Beck will serve as a subject specialist, and Charles A. Julian will assist with project research and compliance issues. The project will begin in October, and the funding ends in May 2013.

This research continues the university's efforts to ensure mining is safe for both the miners and the public. Its ongoing Mining and Industrial Safety Technology and Training Innovation (MISTTI) project, funded through NIOSH, has worked to improve the health and safety of miners and other workers by enhancing and facilitating the introduction of new and existing technologies, training, and technology transfer approaches from government and private research facilities into the mining industry. That contract helps fund the annual International Mining Health and Safety Symposium held by WJU. The Coal Impoundment Location and Information System, a combined effort of the Center for Educational Technologies and National Technology Transfer Center as well, created a user-friendly website that lists locations of impoundments in a six-state area and provides real-time information about emergency situations and evacuation plans.