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Part 1 of this article provided a general background of what a reliability and maintainability (R&M) engineer does. Part 2 will get into the actual details of R&M education, company training, professional development and the importance of practical experience (internships and other work experiences).

Offered at the University of Tennessee are reliability and maintainability engineering (RME)degrees and certificates.

RME minor with a B.S. degree in engineering

The minor in RME requires five courses in the area of reliability and maintainability (two required and three electives) and must be achieved within the framework of a bachelor of sciencedegree. An example would be a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering with aminor in reliability and maintainability engineering. The RME minor appears on the student’s official transcript.

M.S. degree in RME

The College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee and the Department of Statistics, Operations and Management Science have teamed to offer an interdepartmental master of science degree in reliability and maintainability engineering. The M.S. program consists of 30 hours of graduate work in RME, with a concentration in one of the traditional engineering academic departments (e.g., chemical, industrial, mechanical, nuclear, electrical, computer engineering, etc. The program can be completed on campus or through real-time and interactive distance delivery.

RME certificate(for university-enrolled students)

The undergraduate RME certificate requires a combination of successfully completing two specified elective courses (Introduction to Reliability Engineering and Introduction to Maintainability Engineering) with at least a 3.0 grade and completing two Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) internships (13 weeks, including the one week R&M overview training course). Students need to qualify through an interview process.

The graduate RME certificate is an interdepartmental initiative designed for students who wish to pursue careers in reliability and maintainability engineering. It is also suitable for professionals and managers currently working in the field looking to improve their knowledge and skills. The program consists of four graduate engineering courses, two required courses and two elective courses. The two required courses introduce the student to the fundamentals of maintenance engineering and reliability engineering. The two elective courses are selected from a list of RME-related courses that currently includes courses in five traditional engineering disciplines.

Summer student internships

Students work on projects during a 13-week session that bring deliverable results. Examples of assignments in companies across North America are:

  • Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) improvements at Harley Davidson, Wisconsin.
  • Infrared analysis of electronic parts (product) at Schlumberger, Colorado.
  • Reliability maintenance improvements on facility practices at Oak Ridge National Lab’s supercomputer complex, Tennessee.
  • Facility maintenance improvements at Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico.
  • System redesign of electronic testing equipment at Schlumberger, Louisiana.
  • Developed asset risk assessments for critical equipment at Novelis, Georgia.
  • Analysis of leaks and moisture related damage on helicopter parts, Redstone Arsenal (U.S. Army), Alabama.
  • Performed failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) and improvements on the slitter saw system at Owens Corning, Ohio.
  • Developed troubleshooting software for operator consoles at DuPont, Virginia.
  • Improved equipment lubrication program at Nissan, Smyrna, Tennessee.
  • Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) analysis of chiller buildings, B&W Y-12 National Security Complex, Tennessee.
  • Determined new product control and specification limits to be used for machine set-up at RockTenn, Florida.
  • Mobile equipment upgrades and criticality assessments, Alcoa, South Carolina.
  • Developed detailed reliability processes for root cause analysis (RCA), criticality assessment, RCM and risk-based inspection at SABIC Innovative Plastics, Indiana.
  • Evaluated the accuracy of manufacturing targets at Schlumberger, Texas.

Here are some comments about 2012 interns from their supervisors:

“Russell exceeded the expectations of a second term summer student. His accomplishments are closely related to that of a second tothird year full-time reliability engineer.”

“Miles has been a great addition to the Sustaining team here. He has given an excellent kickstart to our efforts to start a reliability centered maintenance program and a lot of his work will serve as a foundation for future work to build upon.”

“Patrick worked with a senior engineer to analyze the reliability performance of several components on the AH-64 Apache helicopter system. The work he has done has been very valuable to this organization and to the U.S. Army.”

“Shanel is an excellent intern/student. She learns very quickly and she is strong technically. I was very impressed with her enthusiasm and her willingness to learn. It is my hope that our company makes her an offer of employment.”

“Ross adapts quickly and developed leadership skills that will benefit him in the future. His project made a substantial impact on the site and the operations of the equipment involved in his project.”

“Kyle has been a definite asset during his time with us. He has the ability to both work and think outside the box, offer valid suggestions and present excellent ideas to our team and team’s objectives.”

“Chris was an excellent addition to our group of maintenance engineers this summer. He was enthusiastic about learning RCM principles and applying them to his summer project. Chris would be an asset to any engineering program and we hope that he is interested in returning next summer.”

During the first week of their first summer internship, students attended an intense (one week on campus) R&M training program with representatives from numerous companies (typically 70 to 100 attendees).


Figure 2: Company participants and summer interns at R&M Boot Camp

The RMC regularly places students insummer internships in over half of the United States. Some of the companies and organizations that have used UT-RMC summer interns are Alcoa, Amazon, Bayer, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, Domtar, Dow, DuPont, Energizer, Fluor Global, Harley Davidson, Jacobs Engineering, Nissan, NiSource, Novelis, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, RockTenn, Setech, Owens Corning, Redstone Arsenal, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Schlumberger, Y-12 National Security Complex and Sandia National Laboratories.

At the 2013 MARCON Conference, Mark Corrigan, V.P. Operations Integrity, Schlumberger,mentioned during his keynote addressto a capacity-filled audience that, “one of the reasons that we are involved with the University of Tennessee and the Reliability & Maintainability Center is because it’s the premier place for recruiting R&M engineers.” Mark is based in Paris, France.

Some of the companies are involved with RMC professional development, some are sponsoring their employees with RME degrees and some are involved with company-specific projects with the RMC and students.

Two students (previous graduates) that have been through the UT-RMC program are Victor and Brad. I’ve asked them to share some of their stories.

Brad Hill, M.S. degree in R&M engineering, works at Schlumberger as a reliability & maintainability métiermanager.

“I started working with Schlumberger Technology Corporation as a field engineer in 2003 after completing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After several years working in field operations and several more years in human resources, I took the opportunity to work part-time as a maintainability engineer with Schlumberger while also attending the University of Tennessee to get a master’s degree in reliability and maintainability engineering (RME). Although I entered the program through the Electrical Engineering department, my coursework was mainly through other departments. The flexibility of the program allowed me to continue working during normal business hours and take courses online in the evenings.

Figure 3: Brad in front of an accelerated life test chamber

“The RME degree helped me build a solid foundation in reliability and maintainability through coursework in statistics, reliability, maintainability and systems engineering. For my final project, I did a recurrence analysis to get a better understanding of the reliability of a few of Schlumberger’s products. On the whole, the knowledge I gained while obtaining the degree has been incredibly valuable, as my current role requires a mix of theoretical and practical knowledge. Since completing the degree in 2012, I have been working as the reliability &maintainability métier manager at Schlumberger’s Houston Formation Evaluation Center, where I am responsible for ensuring that reliability and maintainability are incorporated into product design.

“I chose RME as the next step for my career because it seemed clear to me that product reliability is playing a more important role in every company’s future. With increases in both product complexity and the potential cost of failure, it is even more important today than in the past that we strive to make our equipment more reliable. In the photo, I am next to a chamber where we are performing ahighly accelerated life test (HALT) to try to understand the operating margins and limits of our designs. Ultimately, we want to know how our design will react to various environmental stresses, at what point in its life it might fail and what we need to improve to prevent failure.

“One of the hats I continue to wear with Schlumberger is that of the recruiter. From the time spent as an actual recruiter to my current role, I have helped the company recruit many new employees and interns. Of these interns, I have found that the RMC has done an excellent job in preparing students for roles in industry. Through a combination of the coursework required for the minor in RME, the hands-on maintainability lab, the week-long boot camp and summer internships, I feel that all engineering interns and students coming out of the RMC are well ahead of their peers that haven’t had these opportunities.

“Overall, the RME program at the University of Tennessee and the RMC has made a large difference in my career and I can see the difference it is making for the success of others.”

Victor Foster,B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, with R&M engineering minor, works at Cargill Inc., as a senior reliability engineer.


Figure 4: Victor investigating a coal bucket elevator shaft failure as part of a root cause analysis

“I got into reliability through the RMC summer internship program. During college, I participated in two internships at DuPont: one at the Corian® facility and a second at a sodium cyanide facility. My experiences there allowed me to be a competitive candidate as I interviewed for a full-time job. Ultimately, my wife (also a graduate of the UT-RME program, now with Lucite International) and I decided to take jobs as maintenancereliability engineers with the Dow Chemical Company.We chose to continue with reliability because we saw it as a growing field and something where we could bring skills that few others could.

“After working at two different plastic manufacturing facilities within Dow, I took a position at a RockTenn paper mill as a reliability engineer. As the first reliability engineer the site had ever had, I was able to implement several new programs and revitalize existing reliability initiatives. As the reliability engineer, I participated in a reliability audit with the division's leadership. During the week, I discussed my reliability knowledge, training and past experiences, which made a very favorable impression on the division's director of reliability. I soon had the opportunity to be promoted tomechanical reliability leader for the division, traveling to and advising all 13 mills on how to implement reliability best practices. I credit my knowledge and training from the RMC for allowing me to progress so quickly to that position, since I was only out of college for three years.

“Now I am the senior reliability engineer for Cargill, where I am in charge of the site's reliability engineers and contract predictive maintenance services. My goal is to bring my leadership and existing skills to elevate the established reliability team to best in class. I have been fortunate to have exceptional flexibility in being able to select positions that interest me, while being in a position to negotiate for my career. Reliability truly is an innovative field that is highly in demand.

“I chose a career in reliability because I realized that reliability was a high priority in industry, but many people lacked the skills and knowledge to implement it. This gave me a competitive advantage in the job market straight out of college.”


The Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) offers a full range of professional development in R&M. There is enough flexibility to allow participants to attain a general reliability and maintainability knowledge base or get very specific in a field of application interest. Eight courses are offered by the RMC and over 100 courses are offered through RMC training partners. There are two UT-RMC reliability and maintainability engineering certificates that can be earned. One is titled Implementation and offers courses like,The Factory – A Hands-on Maintainability Lab, which includes over 100 learning events. Examples of areas covered are:

  • 5S/Visual Controls/Mistake Proofing.
  • Practicable Maintainability Concepts.
  • Safety & Maintainability.
  • Elements of Maintainability, like accessibility, modularity and standardization.
  • Experience a Kaizen Event.
  • Change the Thinking Process.
Figure 5: The Factory – A Hands-On Maintainability Lab is among the courses under Implementation, one of two UT-RMC reliability and maintainability engineering certicates
Figure 6: UT-RMC professional development model

Those enrolled in the Implementation certificate take a minimum of six courses and complete an implementation project. Up to three courses can be taken from training partners to enable specific focus on desired areas. Examples from over 100 courses are:

ABS: Component Reliability Analysis

Des-Case: Practical Machinery Lubrication

Emerson: Advanced Vibration Analysis

GPAllied: RCM Blitz

Ivara: RCM2 Facilitator

Life Cycle Engineering: Planning for Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages

Meridium: Reliability Concepts and Distribution Growth

Reliability Solutions: Precision Maintenance – Essentials Craft Skills

These course offerings cover many of the interests and needs of the workforce, from skilled trades and technicians to managers working in R&M. Of course, this list is not all-inclusive. There are many types of courses offered by each of the RMC training partners. Skilled trades, technicians, engineers and managers end up in most of the courses together, providing a good mix of interaction.

The second certificate is titled Skill Building. It is offered in partnership with GPAllied (inspired blended learning). It starts with a one-week kick-off (offered monthly) to solidify the basics, then 52 e-learning modules, along with a progressive project to highlight module learning.

The e-learning curriculum is organized into the major areas of:

  • Asset Health Management;
  • Work Execution Management Overview;
  • Developing Effective Work Procedures;
  • Reliability Centered Maintenance;
  • Root Cause Analysis;
  • Reliability Engineering;
  • Materials Management Optimization.

Both the Implementation and Skill Building certificates have mentoring/coaching to guide how what has been learned can be applied at work with measurable results. Upon completion of the curriculum, company participants will be granted a university-sanctioned Certificate in Reliability & Maintainability Engineering Implementation or Skill Building from the University of Tennessee-RMC. The University of Tennessee is celebrating 175 years of engineering (1838-2013).


At the UT-Reliability and Maintainability Center, we are implementing our vision to support both students and companies in getting ready for future R&M challenges and opportunities.

For more information on the reliability and maintenance programs offered at the University of Tennessee, visit www.rmc.utk.edu/.

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