Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Safety Sciences American Society of Safety Professionals student section has been named the Outstanding Student Section of the Year by the American Society of Safety Professionals.

The honor comes with a $5,000 award from the ASSP to fund scholarships and research.

IUP’s student section, part of the western Pennsylvania ASSP chapter, includes approximately 100 students in the safety sciences major. Safety Sciences faculty member Majed Zreiqat is the section’s faculty advisor.

The student section sponsors monthly meetings where safety and health professionals speak to the group about a variety of safety and health issues. In addition, the IUP section also completes a variety of community service activities, including volunteering at the IUP American Red Cross Blood Drive, cosponsoring the Holiday Toy and Hat Drive with IUP Ladies of Safety student group to donate hats and toys for local elementary schools, and organizing the Emily’s Army Fundraiser.

The 2023 recognition is the chapter’s sixth Outstanding Student Section honor. The American Society of Safety Professionals is the oldest professional safety organization in the United States, with 140 chapters nationwide and 54 student sections within eight regions.

“Dr. Zreiqat helped lead this group of student officers to success through establishing goals and setting an aggressive agenda,” Tracey Cekada, chair of the IUP Department of Safety Sciences, said. “His drive, leadership, and commitment is evident in all that he empowered the student section to accomplish. The workload was tremendous, but this group of students were impressive.”

“Madison Piatak, the student officer in charge of submitting the 70-plus pages of the application, did a fantastic job,” Zreiqat said. “The student officers—President Collin McCanna, Vice President Sydney McCormick, Treasurer Kacie Means, Secretary Madison Piatak, and Social Media chairpersons Karly LeComte and Carson Aiken—were so determined and goal driven. I can’t imagine anything less from them,” he said. Piatak is from Portage, McCanna is from Elizabethtown, McCormick is from Mineral Point, Means is from Rockton, LeComte is from Lilly, and Aiken is from Portersville.

“Beyond the student officers, there were many students within the program who also contributed to the success of the student section through their involvement in research and community service. This award is extremely competitive and is the highest honor bestowed upon a student section by ASSP, and everyone involved in this award should be proud,” he said.

Zreiqat will receive recognition in June at the ASSP Professional Development Conference in San Antonio, where more than 5,000 attendees are expected to attend.

In making the announcement about the recognition, the ASSP praised IUP’s student section for its strength in all three critical requirements: professional development, research, and campus and community involvement.

The award committee also noted the group's strong technical meetings with diverse topics and presenters, along with great community service projects. The judges also recognized the section’s research projects, including “The Influence of Surface Types on Walking Parameters with Slips, Trips and Falls on Construction Sites” and “Work Effort and Perceived Exertion While Wearing Passive Exoskeleton and Industrial Overhead Tasks.”

IUP’s Department of Safety Sciences offers a bachelor’s degree and minor in safety, health, and environmental applied sciences, and both a master’s degree and PhD in safety sciences. The bachelor of science degree program in Safety, Health, and Environmental Applied Sciences is accredited by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. The Department of Safety Sciences has been in the forefront of safety education since its establishment in 1971.

The Department of Safety Sciences is part of the John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at IUP. More than 3,000 safety and health professionals have graduated from the program. The department also includes the Pennsylvania Occupational Safety and Health Administration Consultation Program.