The Gator Safety Professionals, a student section at the University of Florida under the North Florida Chapter, are back! Inactive since 2014, the section has restarted operations within the university’s M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management, which has a robust curriculum featuring undergraduate courses on construction, safety, health and the environment and graduate courses that address advanced issues in construction safety and health. The organization currently has 50 active students. The group’s faculty advisors are Andrew Wehle, Ph.D., STSC, and Russell Walters, Ph.D. Section officers and members pictured here are (from left): Forough Foroutan, social chair; Mohsen Hatami, president; Jared Dunkel, treasurer; Behnam Tehrani, secretary; and Alireza Adibfar.
Originally founded as the University of Florida Student Section in 1997 by Dr. Jimmie Hinze, the section was the first professional safety student group at the university. From 1997 to 2013, Hinze educated/mentored students, conducted safety research, established the Fluor Center for Construction Safety and hosted safety conferences.
After Hinze passed away in 2013, faculty members Russell Walters and Andrew Wehle worked together to reestablish the student section. Graduate research students Alireza Adibfar, Gilles Albeaino, Mansour Sodagari and Ricardo Eiris formed the core of the next generation of the section under its new name, Gator Safety Professionals. Under their leadership, the students worked tirelessly to conduct safety seminars, host industry guest lectures and increase membership.
For the coming year, the reinvigorated group has set some key goals:
- Share knowledge aligns with academic programs to increase awareness amongst community members.
- Create and improve a strong network among students and professionals.
- Provide continuing education opportunities.
The section looks forward to hosting more presentations from safety professionals as well as continued growth of members from academic disciplines throughout the university for all students interested in careers in safety.