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International System Safety Society Awards

Eight awards are available for presentation to deserving safety professionals. Individuals, committees or groups may submit nominations to the Awards Committee. Some nominations are specifically for individuals, while others may be for individuals, groups, committees or organizations. The awards cycle is from May 15 of the previous year to May 14 of the current year. In 2020, nominations will be accepted until September 11. Awards are presented at the annual Awards Banquet during the International System Safety Conference.

Please submit award nominations online here, or you may download the form and send your nomination to


Submit a Nomination


View our Past Award Recipients (PDF)

System Safety Society Awards

Arthur D. Barondes

2019 Recipient:
Arthur D. Barondes

Professional Development Award

Fellow and Senior members of the Society only

The Professional Development Award is the highest award presented by the Society. It is presented annually to an individual for sustained, significant achievement in the advancement of the system safety profession during the course of his or her career.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Arthur Barondes is the recipient of the 2019 ISSS Professional Development Award. This is the highest honor given by the International System Safety Society (ISSS). It recognizes his outstanding contributions to the advancement of the system safety profession. In its 57 years, this is only 12th time the Society has seen fit to bestow this award on a worthy individual.

Arthur is a ’48 West Point graduate, University of Michigan aeronautical engineer, George Washington University MBA, and American University Ph.D.(ABD). He also completed a 1-year Air Force training-with-industry program in the Guided Missile Laboratory of the Hughes Aircraft Co. and is a 1970 honor graduate of the National War College. He has almost 70 years of broad-based safety-related experience. It dates back to extensive exposure to flight safety with 4,500 flying hours including the first Air Force experimental flight test launches of Falcon air-to-air missiles in 1955. It includes five years (1964-69) of preparing and assisting in the presentation of Air Force statements to congressional authorization and appropriation committees on its research and development programs.

His safety responsibilities include extensive assurance of nuclear weapon safety. This started with command responsibilities for a Minuteman III missile wing in the Strategic Air Command (1973-74), where safety was paramount in maintaining on-alert status for nominally 150 missiles and 450 W62 nuclear warheads. He finished his Air Force career in 1975, as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff for B-1 (nuclear-capable bomber) Matters. One of the supersonic B-1A features was a Crew Escape Module to provide safe in-flight ejection if needed.

Beginning in 1975, Arthur provided system engineering and technical assistance (SETA) to the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA)—renamed the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA) in 1996, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in 1998. In 1976, he was named Deputy Executive Director of the President’s Scientific Advisory Committee (PSAC), but incoming President Carter disbanded the Committee. In 1979, he started an 11-year tour with DNA’s contract-operated field office in Europe, with the mission of im-proving Theater Nuclear Forces (TNF). As Deputy Director, he assisted Allied Command Europe (ACE) and U.S. European Command (EUCOM) by: improving the safety and security (surety) of nuclear forces; modeling effective use of dispersed basing; and, designing a more-survivable command and control system for nuclear forces in Europe, to augment the ACE Status, Control, Alerting and Reporting System (SCARS II). He also designed a probabilistic model to assist the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in determining nuclear weapon requirements.

Arthur returned to the States in 1991, and continued to provide SETA support to DNA—primarily in conducting and reviewing probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs) for nuclear weapons. He was selected to join the DNA team working on the joint Department of Defense (DoD)/Department of Energy (DOE) study of the safety and security (surety) of transporting each type of weapon in the nuclear stockpile. Arthur’s major contribution to the study was changing the focus from each segment of a weapon movement to the aggregate end-to-end risk in weapon movements.

Following the 1990 report of the congressionally-mandated Drell1 Panel on nuclear weapon safety, the Air Force Chief of Safety asked DNA to assess the probability of a nuclear weapon accident dispersing plutonium in respirable form. DNA asked its SETA contractor to develop a probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) model to assess Air Force nuclear-capable weapon systems. Arthur’s job was to conduct the first probabilistic weapon system safety assessment (WSSA) on the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). His WSSA model, suitable for any nuclear-capable weapon system, addressed a dynamic 20-year life cycle that included: a drawdown in the number of missiles; a change-out from the Los Alamos (LANL) W78 warheads to the markedly safer Livermore (LLNL) W87 warheads; and, reducing the number of warheads per missile from three to one (deMIRVing).

Arthur and his team used fault trees to identify all possible events that could damage a warhead (initiating events) and event trees to determine probability distributions of warhead responses. Arthur had the model reviewed by MIT Professor Rasmussen who had used PRA to quantify the safety of nuclear power plants.2 In consultation with the DOE weapon design laboratories (LANL and LLNL), the final event—weapon response—was treated as a unit vector of: high explosive violent reaction; thermal release (hydrocarbon fuel fire or rocket propellant fuel/oxidizer burn); mechanical release; and, no release.

Arthur and his team took two years to complete the Minuteman WSSA. Much of the time was taken by DNA-contracted test programs needed to fill data voids. Sandia National Laboratories and DNA contractors conducted extensive tests and determined new understandings in fire science, lightning attachment effects, reinforced concrete responses to impact loads, hypergolic fuel/oxidizer burn phenomena, titanium pressure vessel failure modes, and hydrocarbon fuel fire temperatures. When finished, the WSSA succeeded in identifying dominant risk contributors as well as risk-reduction measures. Arthur briefed the Minuteman III WSSA to Dr. Drell as well as high-level government agencies, e.g., NASA. He also presented it at ISSS Conferences.

DNA contracted for follow-on WSSAs of B-52 and B-2 strategic bombers, and nuclear-capable Air Force aircraft in Europe. Arthur, with a smaller team, peer-reviewed those assessments. Contrary to the normal pre-publication peer review process, Arthur instituted time-phased peer reviews at assessment milestones to permit corrective action before the next phase of the assessment. This proved to be effective in reducing assessment time and cost.

DTRA also asked Arthur to apply PRA techniques to assess high-priority risks in time-sensitive problem areas. Those included: Air Force C-141 air-transport of weapons over the United Kingdom; comparison of risks using the C-17 aircraft versus the C-141 for the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force (PNAF) to air-transport weapons; and, a host of 9/11-related issues. Under the aegis of Nunn-Lugar legislation, DTRA asked him to brief the WSSA methodology for improved nuclear weapon safety to elements of the Russian nuclear weapon community: the All-Russia Research Institute of Automatics (Sandia-like) in Mos-cow, and All-Russia Scientific Research of Technical Physics, Chelyabinsk-70 (Los Alamos-like). This led to Russian participation in annual ISSS functions.

With the PRA process well in hand, DNA nominated Arthur for the 1997 Defense Science Board (DSB) Eugene G. Fubini Award “to recognize an individual from the private sector who has made highly significant contributions to the Department of Defense in an advisory capacity over a sustained period of time.” This was the first year the award was authorized, but it was not made.

In 2001, the Chairman of the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB) asked DTRA to peer review its projected use of PRA software, known as Safety Assessment For Explosives Risk (SAFER), as an alternative to Quantity-Distance (Q-D) in obtaining approval of explosives site locations. DTRA asked Arthur, now Principal at Analytics International Corp. (AIC), to do the peer review. He staffed a small team for the job, including a statistician and an energetics expert, and delivered the review. It took issue with a relatively large number of SAFER procedures and omissions including the treatment of uncertainty. Most of the issues have been resolved in subsequent versions of SAFER. He also offered a simpler approach of using probabilistic values for the deterministic values in Q-D calculations.

In the past 20 years, Arthur has been active in the System Safety Society. He has documented causes of diverse major accidents that have been misunderstood or misrepresented. This includes the Exxon Valdez going aground in 1989 (published in the Journal of System Safety), and the DC-10 crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 in 1974. He has also chaired technical sessions and peer reviewed papers for the Society’s annual conferences.

Arthur’s many outstanding contributions to system safety, especially in the areas of aircraft and nuclear weapon safety, are reflected in his noteworthy publications, academic achievements, professionalism and dedication to the system safety community. The ISSS is proud of the scientific achievement and technical excellence Arthur Barondes brought to the System Safety profession, and honors him with the 2019 Professional Development Award.

1Dr. Sidney Drell with Nobel Laureate Dr. Charles Townes and Dr. John Foster.
21975, WASH-1400, “The Reactor Safety Study”.

Pam L. Alte

2019 Recipient:
Pam L. Alte

Manager of the Year

Any System Safety Society member

The Manager of the Year Award is presented annually to an individual member of the Society who has made significant contributions through the implementation of an effective system safety management program for a major system effort.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Pam Alte was elected in July 2019 as the ISSS Executive Vice President, relinquishing her role as the President of the ISSS Northeast Chapter in this transition. Pam has previously served as the International System Safety Society’s (ISSS’s) Conference Chair for the 2013 ISSC.

Pam has taken on a lead Management role in system safety for Sikorsky in Connecticut. Her style of management has facilitated deeper individual contribution and encouraged an open organizational posture that allows the teams to interact in a constructive non-defensive way that is critical for deep team engagement. Pam is responsible for leading all system safety engineers across all Sikorsky’s platforms.

Even with her added management responsibilities, she maintained direct involvement with the US Air Force’s HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, and was instrumental in it reaching its first flight milestone in May 2019. Additional company successes that would have been difficult without Pam’s management support are:

  • SB>1 Defiant first flight
  • CH-53K full rate production decision
  • S-97 Raider continued progress in experimental flight test

Pam also represents Product Safety as a voting member of Sikorsky’s Qualification Assurance Board (QAB), which functions as an independent airworthiness authority for programs not covered by the FAA or Military.

Aside from leadership within Sikorsky’s system safety organization, Pam provided a robust, durable and dependable system safety chapter presence in the North East through effective use of volunteers and guiding efforts by clear and insightful management. She has actively supported the Northeast Chapter EC in varying roles since 2010. Several ISSS Executive Committee members have attended chapter leadership meetings virtually and were impressed with the candor and cadence with which they operate.

The ISSS appreciates the acumen Pam Alte brings to the management of engineering leaders and to System Safety Engineers by honoring her as the 2019 Manager of the Year.

Donne DiFiglia

2019 Recipient:
Donne DiFiglia

Engineer of the Year

Any System Safety Society member

The Engineer of the Year Award is presented annually to an individual member of the Society who has made significant contributions to system safety through the development of engineering methods, standards or designs that have improved the safety of operation or use of systems of products.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Donne Marie DiFiglia is the current Director of Chapters & International Outreach for the International System Safety Society. She is Past-President and Scholarship & Education Officer for the Washington DC Chapter. Ms. DiFiglia is known nationally and internationally as a Subject Matter Expert in Software Systems Safety and Agile Methodologies. She is an experienced web designer with over 60 working websites and has been the sole Webmaster for the Washington DC Chapter since 2007


Ms. DiFiglia is an expert Database developer and has designed and coded comprehensive closed-loop Hazard Tracking Systems for many current U.S. Navy and Marines programs including Gun Weapon Systems, CIWS Phalanx, Battle Force Tactical Trainer, Advanced Training Domain, NATO SeaSparrow, Vertical Launching Systems, Lithium Batteries, and Submarine Warfare Systems. She integrated Agile Methodologies and System Safety in a web-based Hazard Tracking System for the Target Location, Designation, and Hand-off System. Ms. DiFiglia designed and developed the Software System Safety Technical Review Panel (SSSTRP) Management System and the SSSTRP Findings Database for the Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity (NOSSA) and was the original web designer for the WISE Training System used to train and certify Department of Defense Principals for Safety.

Ms. DiFiglia is currently a Senior Principal Systems Safety Engineer at SAIC. She has over 35 years of experience in Military Systems and Software Engineering. She completed the pre-medical curriculum at the State University of New York at Buffalo where she later taught. She received Masters Certification in Real-Time Military Programming at Barrister, did her graduate studies in Computer Architecture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and completed certification for Software Safety Engineering at the University of Southern California School of Engineering.

In her early career, Ms. DiFiglia was a Senior Computer Scientist developing software for Aegis and Aegis BMD at CSC in Dahlgren, VA. In response to an international incident, she was recruited to design and implement a set of improved Close Control Displays for the Aegis Class of Cruisers and Destroyers. Ms. DiFiglia received a U.S. Navy Commendation for her design which is now in use on Aegis ships. She received several other Naval awards including an award for fixing a vital sensor system onboard the DDG 72 USS Mahan. She was an Aegis Trainer and one of the chief developers of the software for the Training Consoles at the Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) in Dahlgren, VA.

Ms. DiFiglia sat on the Weapon System Explosives Safety Review Board (WSESRB) and the SSSTRP as a Software Safety Expert and served as deputy to the SSSTRP chairman with whom she co-authored a paper, “Examining the Use of Model-Based Development and Autocode Generation Tools in Safety-Critical Systems”. She collaborated with the former WSESRB Chair to develop policy for Joint Service Safety Review of Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard systems.

One of Donne’s superior efforts is the development and presentation of an Introduction to Software Safety and the System Safety process course of instruction. It goes through the step by step process per MIL-STD 882E in evaluating, ranking, and mitigating hazards. This training has been presented multiple times to government and military personal, at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, to new and experienced engineers at seminars and conferences and at her companies’ technical forums. Her performance over many years is the very definition of outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, System Safety education and the advancement of the state of knowledge in System Safety.

The ISSS appreciates the engineering advances Donne DiFiglia has made to the science of System Safety Engineering by honoring her as the 2019 Engineer of the Year.

Ken Rose

2019 Recipient:
Kenneth R. Rose, MS, MSE, CSP

Educator of the Year

Any System Safety Society member involved in education

The Educator of the Year Award is presented annually for outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, system safety education and the advancement of the state of knowledge in system safety.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Ken Rose is a safety engineer serving as the senior team lead for system safety in the US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) Safety Office. AMCOM is the Army’s Life Cycle Management Command for missile and rocket weapon systems, munitions, support equipment and aviation assets. He has worked in safety for over 30 years. He also serves as the Executive Secretary of the Army Weapon Systems Safety Review Board and the Joint Weapon Safety Working Group, and is an advisor to the Army Fuze Safety Review Board and the Army Ignition System Safety Review Board. An important part of Ken's duties has involved training other engineers in the areas of system safety, fuze safety, ignition system safety, and software safety. This has been especially true in the last year where his efforts have culminated in rolling out new highly-developed training courses that will set the standard of system safety knowledge in the Army for many years to come.

Mr. Rose has served in Army System Safety since 1985. He spent a year at Army Forces Command HQ, two years at US Army Europe HQ and a year at Army Materiel Command (AMC) HQ. Because of this ‘greening experience’ he developed a thorough understanding of weapon systems training and employment in the user's environment. While at AMC HQ Mr. Rose reconstituted the Army Materiel Command’s System Safety Policy Committee (SYSPAC) and has chaired the group for 12 years. He championed development of the Army Weapon Systems Safety Review Board, served as its Executive Secretary for 12 years, and led the Army’s integration into Joint Weapon Safety partnering with the US Air Force and US Navy, as Co-Executive Secretary (12 years) of the Joint Services Weapon Safety Working Group. He integrated the Joint Weapon Systems Safety processes into the system safety courses he developed. Lately he has chaired the Acquisition subgroup of the Department of Army Electromagnetic Environmental Effects Working Group, which included developing acquisition Statement of work, specification and CDRL require-ments/guidance and modification of related regulations and DA Pamphlets. He has developed and conducted training in classroom, as well as, individual on the job training situations. His subject matter spans the full range of system safety topics that pertain to Aerospace as well as more conventional weapon systems.

The ISSS appreciates the educational advances Ken Rose has made to the science of System Safety Engineering by honoring him as the 2019 Educator of the Year. John Frost accepted this award on Ken’s behalf.

Bijan Elahi

2019 Recipient:
Bijan Elahi

Scientific Achievement Award

Any individual, group or organization

The Scientific Achievement Award is presented to an individual or group that has made significant contributions to the advancement of system safety through research and development programs.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Bijan Elahi has been a champion for system safety in the medical technology field. His mission is to elevate competence and efficiency in management of risks of medical systems, worldwide. He is achieving this by writing a landmark book Safety Risk Management for Medical Devices (2018, Elsevier Publishing), developing an analytical method for system safety for the medical device industry. Bijan also teaches a graduate course in two universities in the Netherlands and is a frequently invited guest speaker in international professional conferences.

Bijan is a Technical Fellow and a corporate expert on risk management at Medtronic, Inc. (MDT). He serves as the global educator and consultant to all Medtronic business units, worldwide.

Currently, in most of the medical device industry, risk is estimated qualitatively. Risk is defined as the probability of occurrence of harm, crossed with consequence. One of the requirements of ISO 14971, the international standard for medical device risk management, is to estimate the overall residual risk of medical devices. When the residual risk for each hazard is qualitatively estimated, aggregation of the individual hazard risks is little more than hand-waving. Bijan has created a new quantitative approach to risk estimation, named the BXM method. With the quantitative method it is possible to use Boolean algebra to compute the overall residual risk. Therefore, a medical device manufacturer could objectively estimate the overall residual risks of their medical devices. Other benefits of the quantitative method include more consistency in risk management of the family of products of a manufacturer, and more feasibility for the use of software for automation which in turn increases efficiency and quality of the risk management work products.

The ISSS appreciates the scientific and technical excellence Bijan Elahi brings to System Safety by honoring him with the 2019 Scientific Achievement Award.

Michael H. McKelvey

2019 Recipient:
Michael H. McKelvey

President's Achievement Award

Society officers, committees, groups or organizations

The President's Achievement Award is presented annually for outstanding service to the System Safety Society or for special achievements in support of system safety. The selection of the award recipients rests solely with the President of the System Safety Society.

International Award — Any Society member, group or organization.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Mike McKelvey has served as the International System Safety Society’s (ISSS’s) Director of Publicity and Media since July 2017, after having previously served as Treasurer then Vice President of the ISSS Virtual Chapter.

In his time as Director of Publicity and Media, Mike helped the Society implement the use of an improved Job App, led a team that developed a coordinated set of User Requirements for a new Society website, vastly improved the Societies exposure in Social Media forums, in January 2019 was elected to the Board of Directors to the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium (RAMS), and in June 2019 he was elected as Assistant Treasurer of RAMS.

Mike is an Associate Technical Fellow, specializing in Reliability and System Safety Engineering for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). He is a driving force in improving the knowledge, skills, and tools for BCA development and production/in-service at the airplane integration and system levels. His skills are sought after and used by Boeing Global Services (BGS) and Boeing Defense Systems & Space (BDS); he regularly works with BGS and BDS peers to create the most efficient and useful tools/data, harmonized to the maximum extent practical. Additionally, Mike has been bestowed the honor of being a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designee since 1997 in the area of airplane and system safety.

The ISSS shows their appreciation of Mike’s efforts towards improving our Society by making him the recipient of the 2019 President’s Award.

Gabriele Schedl

2019 Recipient:
Gabriele Schedl

International Award

Any Society member, group or organization

The International Award is presented to a person, group or organization for outstanding achievement or special service in the advancement of the system safety discipline in a country other than the United States of America.

Learn more about our 2019 recipient

Gabriele “Gabi” Schedl has served for twenty years in her company as the Director of Safety Management. She has also provided leadership for the International System Safety Society in the position on Regional Vice president for Europe, earning the respect and recognition of industrial and academic bodies within the UK and overseas. Gabriele Schedl has consistently provided strong professional support for the International System Safety Society (ISSS). She has presented papers and tutorials at the ISSC and sent her team to the conferences for many years.

Gabriele Schedl has led the industry in Europe to follow system safety standards and has encouraged the development of a System and Safety Engineering study branch at the University of Applied Sciences in Vienna and a System Safety certification program at Frequentis.

Gabriele Schedl has inspired and challenged the work of other system safety professionals as a Senior Manager and Educator. Courses under her leadership have provided many dozens of engineers with a solid foundation in the principles of System Safety, which have had a very positive impact. Graduates are now successfully working in projects across industries and in systems throughout the Europe. They are characterized by a high level of insight, proficiency and competence.

The ISSS appreciates the technical excellence, learned support and expansion of System Safety Engineering toolsets/processes Gabriele Schedl brings to system safety by honoring her with the 2019 International Award. Werner Winkelbauer accepted this award on Gabriele’s behalf.


Chapter of the Year Award

Any System Safety Society Chapter in good standing

The Chapter of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize exceptional effort on the part of a Chapter's membership to promote system safety and the Society. The Chapter must submit an annual report and meet specific criteria as provided to Chapter presidents each year.

For more information on Society awards and criteria, please download the following file (PDF):

System Safety Society Awards Criteria


The International System Safety Society


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