Futures At

Fullerton and Cypress Colleges

Dr. Najmedin Meshkati

Najmedin (Najm) Meshkati is a Professor at the Sonny Astani Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering and a Professor at the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California (USC).  Prior to this, he was an Associate Professor and the Associate Executive Director at the Institute of Safety and Systems Management, and the Director of the School of Engineering Continuing Education programs which included: the 56-year old USC Aviation Safety Program, Transportation Safety, and Process Safety Management.  Prior to joining USC in 1985, he was Project Director for Decision Dynamics Corporation, Research Engineer at the SKC Research Inc., and lectured at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Meshkati’s research is concerned primarily with the risk reduction and reliability enhancement of complex and large-scale socio-technical systems. These include such systems as the five modes of transportation and their facilities, energy generation (e.g. nuclear power) plants, petrochemical plants and refineries, transmission and distribution grids, gas and liquid fuels pipeline systems and telecommunication networks.  A characteristic common to these high-risk systems is the large amount of potentially hazardous materials concentrated in single sites under the centralized control of a few human operators.  The effects of human error in these systems are often neither observable nor reversible; therefore, error recovery is either too late or impossible.  Potential catastrophic breakdowns of these systems (e.g., nuclear power plants), which often are characterized as ‘low probability, high consequence’, pose serious threats for workers in the plant, the local public, and possibly the neighboring region and parts of the whole country.

Meshkati is an elected Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, an AT&T Faculty Fellow in Industrial Ecology, a NASA Faculty Fellow at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2003 and 2004.  He is the 2007 recipient of the Oliver Keith Hansen Outreach Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and was honored by the HFES for his “scholarly efforts on human factors of complex, large-scale technological systems...[and] efforts to enhance public awareness of critical human factors issue [and] the benefits it brings to humankind.”

Meshkati is a recipient of the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1989.  His analysis of the Bhopal disaster earned him the 1988 American Society for Training and Development International Research Award.  He is the recipient of the 2000 TRW Award for Excellence and Outstanding Achievement in Teaching from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; and the 1996, 2003, 2006, and 2007 Professor of Year Award (Excellence in Teaching and Dedication to Students Award) from the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.  He also received the Ergonomics of Technology Transfer Award from the International Ergonomics Association in 2000, and the Cooperation and Appreciation Award from the Ministry of Manpower, Government of Indonesia in 1985.  His doctoral dissertation at USC won the 1983 Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Award for Research and Innovation.  Most recently, he received the Mortar Board’s Honored Faculty Award (2007-2008) from the University of Southern California’s Chapter of the Mortar Board, and the Outstanding Teaching Award from The Latter-day Saint Student Association at USC (April 11, 2008), and was chosen as a Faculty Fellow by the Center for Excellence in Teaching, USC (2008-2010).

Meshkati was a member of the Committee on Human Performance, Organizational Systems and Maritime Safety.  The Committee was organized by the National Research Council (NRC), the NRC’s Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, and the NRC’s Marine Board.  He has been invited by the NRC and its Board of Radioactive Waste Management to comment on and review a report for the Department of Energy (Systems Analysis and Systems Engineering in Environmental Remediation Programs at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site).

In September 1998, Meshkati was appointed to a NRC six-member Advisory Panel of a Task Force to advise NRC’s Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems and its Board on Army Science and Technology in a project for the Department of Defense (DoD).  Drawing on the lessons of previous conflicts, the project advised the DoD with regard to a long-term strategy for protecting the health of U.S. forces when deployed to unfamiliar environments and faced with chemical or biological warfare agents, other substances, and stress in future deployments, i.e., Major Regional Conflict (MRC), Lesser Regional Conflict (LRC), and Operations Other Than War (OOTW).  The project, among others, included an evaluation of the efficacy of current equipment, policies, and assessed approaches, technologies, as well as training, that have been or may be used by DoD in the development and evaluation of equipment, clothing, and doctrines for physical protection and decontamination.  Most of the analyses, findings and recommendations of the Task Force have been published in a book, Strategies to Protect the Health of Deployed U.S. Forces: Force Protection and Decontamination (National Academy Press, 1999).

Meshkati has been invited by the NRC and the National Science Foundations (NSF) to present at meetings on human factors in complex systems.  He has been either the Principal Investigator or co-investigator for several funded research projects, including two by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Meshkati has inspected many nuclear power and petrochemical plants around the world.  In May 1997, he was invited by the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Yasushi Akashi, to present his research on nuclear safety at an international seminar on Chernobyl which was held in Moscow.  At the invitation of the General Director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station he visited the plant and met with him and his staff.  He spent two days at Chernobyl Reactor #3 (sister reactor of the exploded # 4), spent several hours in its control room, and met with the operators.

Meshkati is the co-editor and a primary author of the book Human Mental Workload, North-Holland, 1988. His articles on public policy; the risk, reliability, and environmental impact of complex, large-scale technological systems; and foreign policy have been published in several national and international newspapers, e.g., The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Houston Chronicle, The Newsday, The Miami Herald, Anchorage Daily News, The Japan Times, The Australian, The International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal Europe, the Asian Wall Street Journal and the USA Today.  His technical reports and articles on safety, health and environment; the risk management, ergonomics and safety of petrochemical plants and nuclear power stations; and aviation safety have been published, disseminated and cited by different United Nations specialized agencies such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Intentional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Labour Office (ILO), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Meshkati was the organizer and the first chairman of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s Technical Group on International Technology Transfer.  He was the Chairman of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) Committee on Technology Transfer and Developing Countries from 1985 to 1995.  As the Chair of the “Group of Experts,” Meshkati coordinated international efforts which culminated in the publication of the ILO Ergonomic Checkpoints book in 1996, and for that he received the 1997 International Ergonomics Association Award for his role and contribution.  This book is now being translated and published into Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, Farsi, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.  In 1988 and 1989, he was one of the forty international scholars invited to present position papers at the World Bank Workshop on Safety Control and Risk Management in Large-scale Technological Operations.  These workshops were co-sponsored by governments of Denmark, Holland and Sweden.

Meshkati has consulted for many national and international companies and organizations, such as: Aerospace Corporation, ARCO, Aviotex Corporation, Eastern Municipal Water District, Electric Power Research Institute, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, International Strategy Consulting Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Navajo Mines, Orange County Transit District, Mosaic, Pacific Gas and Electric, Perceptronics Inc., National Petrochemical Company, Pneumo Abex Corporation, Republic of Singapore Air Force, Rockwell International, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, Sorin Biomedical, United Parcel Service, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the US Navy, and the US Forest Service.

Meshkati simultaneously received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and a B.A. in Political Science in 1976, from Sharif (Arya-Meher) University of Technology and Shahid Beheshti University (National University of Iran), respectively; a M.S. in Engineering Management in 1978; and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering in 1983 from USC.  He is a Certified Professional Ergonomist.