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2017 AWARD FOR RISK REDUCTION in mechanical engineering

Professor Michael Todinov MSc PhD DEng

The Institution's award for Risk Reduction in Mechanical Engineering recognises an eminent engineer who has contributed most in the understanding and/or reduction of risk in any area of Mechanical Engineering. It was formerly known as The Safety in Mechanical Engineering Award.

The 2017 Prestige Award for Risk Reduction in Mechanical Engineering went to Professor Michael Todinov MSc PhD DEng from the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at Oxford Brookes University, in recognition of his significant, sustained and verifiable contributions to reducing risk in mechanical engineering.

Michael has specialised in generic methods and principles for reliability improvement and risk reduction in safe operation and design. He has published numerous papers and his research has been funded by safety-critical industries including automotive, nuclear and oil and gas. His research yielded new methods for reliability improvement and risk reduction such as: the methods of deterministic and stochastic separation, the method of segmentation, the method of inversion, and the method of self-reinforcement.

Michael worked at the University of Birmingham and his PhD related to reducing the risk of premature failure of automotive suspension springs, and the related industrial project received the highest rating from EPSRC. He then moved to Cranfield University as a BP lecturer in reliability engineering and risk management and subsequently became Head of Risk and Reliability in the School of Applied Sciences.
For many decades, the focus of reliability research was on reliability prediction rather than reliability improvement. Critical pieces of information (failure frequencies, failure mechanisms, load distribution, strength distribution) were often unavailable for new designs, which did not permit meaningful analysis and correct prediction of reliability for different environments or uses. Even if all critical pieces of information were available, in some cases a meaningful prediction of the reliability of a system could still be a problem due to the accumulation of inevitable errors associated with the reliabilities of its components.

Michael took a different approach. He focused on methods for reliability improvement and risk reduction which do not depend on the availability of past failure data or detailed knowledge of the failure mechanisms underlying the failure modes. In 2007, his research on generic principles and methods for reliability improvement and risk reduction resulted in the first book on this new research area.  It also introduced the reliability analysis based on the cost of failure and formulated the basic principles of the risk-based design. Michael also pioneered research on how reliability is dependent on the relative configurations of random variables, and optimal allocation of fixed budgets to achieve a maximal reduction of technical risk.

 “I am thrilled to receive this prize,” says Michael Todinov. “It is not only a recognition of decades long efforts in reliability improvement and risk reduction but also a great inspiration to strengthen my research in this area. This prize places me on a positive self-reinforcing feedback loop which I am fully determined to exploit!”

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