WPI Names New Firesafety Studies Director

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706

Kathy Notarianni

WORCESTER, Mass. - April 16, 2004 - Kathy A. Notarianni has been named the new director of the Center for Firesafety Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). She will be the center's second director, succeeding founding center director David A. Lucht, who steps down after more than 25 years in the position (Lucht will remain at WPI in a full-time position as Associate Vice President with the university's division of Development and University Relations). Notarianni is scheduled to join WPI in July, after she finishes her duties as project leader and research engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

As director of the Center for Firesafety Studies at WPI, Notarianni will work with the university's fire protection engineering faculty to plan for the future of graduate studies and research in fire protection engineering, which incorporates elements of civil, structural, electrical and chemical engineering to make structures, vehicles, clothing and people safer from fire. She will build upon the center's working relationships with off-campus agencies, laboratories, universities and companies having common interest in fire protection engineering education and research. She will also monitor industry needs for fire protection engineering graduates, and recruit young men and women who can be trained to meet those needs.

"As home to the world's premier graduate degree program in fire protection engineering, we conducted an extensive search to continue our leadership in this new century," says Edward Alton Parrish, president of WPI. "Kathy Notarianni is the perfect choice to lead the Center for Firesafety Studies - with her exceptional track record in interdisciplinary graduate study, technology transfer, and research in a broad range of fire protection engineering areas."

Notarianni will bring to WPI her 15 years of experience with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a non-regulatory federal agency that develops and promotes measurement, standards and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade and improve the quality of life. During her more recent assignments with the Fire Science Division of NIST's Building and Fire Research Laboratory in Gaithersburg, Md., Notarianni managed a group of 12 scientists and engineers in a technical program of integrated performance assessment and risk. The program serves to produce tools to quantify fire events for fire hazard and risk assessment; fire fighting operations and training; fire investigations and performance evaluations of fire protection systems in buildings; and transportation networks and vehicles in response to fire.

Prior to joining NIST, Notarianni worked as a product engineer at Kidde-Fenwal in Ashland, Mass., and as an Industrial Loss Prevention Field Engineer at FM Global, Norwood, Mass. She is a registered professional engineer.

Notarianni is a member of numerous professional groups, including the American Society of Chemical Engineers, International Association for Fire Safety Science and Society of Risk Analysis; a member of NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and its technical committee on Fire Risk Assessment Methods; a fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) and a current member of the SFPE Engineering Task Group on Risk.

Notarianni is well published, having authored or co-authored more than 30 publications, including chapters in two books, the "Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering," and "Improving Regulations." She has been recognized by the SFPE and U.S. Department of Commerce with awards for leadership and performance.

Notarianni holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and a M.S. in fire protection engineering, both from WPI. She later earned a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, where she did her doctoral dissertation on "The Role of Uncertainty in Improving Regulation: A Case Study in Fire Protection."

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs - including the largest industry/university alliance in North America - that have won it worldwide recognition.

WPI offers a unique degree program in fire protection engineering, serving students ranging from high school graduates to senior practicing engineers.