UHCL’s ABET-accredited program helps student land rewarding EHS career
University of Houston-Clear Lake’s (UHCL) Occupational Safety and Health program, formerly part of the Environmental Science department, prepares students for careers as environmental scientists, industrial hygienists, and safety professionals. Alumnus Tyler Tanniehill was one such student. In May 2019, he earned his B.S. in Environmental Science (now called the Occupational Safety and Health B.S.) with a dual focus in industrial hygiene and safety. Today, he works as an environmental health and safety program manager at Celanese, a global technology leader in producing differentiated chemistry solutions.
His decision to pursue this field at UH-Clear Lake stemmed from his time working as an industrial hygiene technician at Johnson Space Center.
“It’s an interesting field where you have to be interested in continuous learning and familiar with an extremely wide range of careers and the potential hazards,” Tanniehill said. “Getting a bachelor’s in this field from an ABET-accredited college program was convenient.”
Being accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) demonstrates that UHCL’s Occupational Safety and Health program meets the quality standards of the profession for which it prepares graduates.
"UHCL helped prepare me to pass the Certified Industrial Hygienist and Certified Safety Professional exams, and for that, I am very grateful.”
Tanniehill describes the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) field as “very broad.” In UHCL’s program, he took courses that delved into all three elements of the field, which he said helped equip him well for his career at Celanese.
“Before I came to Celanese, I sat for and passed two certification exams: Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and Certified Safety Professional (CSP),” he said. “Some people struggle to earn these certifications because they don’t have the base knowledge in these areas sufficiently to pass the exams. UHCL helped prepare me to pass the exams, and for that, I am very grateful.”
He also expressed gratitude for the faculty involved in the program, including one with whom he still stays in contact and considers a lifelong mentor, Dr. Robert Phalen.
“I hope that someday I will be able to work as a teacher and show the same patience and gratitude that Dr. Phalen did in breaking down complex math into simpler steps,” he said. “He made sure we actually learned the material instead of just knowing how to go through the steps.”
Tanniehill mentioned the convenient campus location and evening course times as other factors which contributed to his positive UHCL experience. His involvement in the university’s Society of Industrial Hygiene and Safety Professionals (SIHSP) also played a role; as the student chapter president of SIHSP, he had the rewarding opportunity to help with UHCL’s annual Chili Cook-Off and to spend a weekend at Washington, D.C., for a leadership seminar.
In addition to these opportunities, UHCL students are qualified to apply for various scholarships to help them achieve their goals. Tanniehill applied for and received several of them, including those awarded by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
He landed a position in Bishop, Texas, in December of 2019 as an industrial hygiene program manager at Celanese. He later transferred to the Evansville, Ind., facility, where he currently works as an environmental health and safety (EHS) program manager.
“When I expanded my role to be an EHS manager, I was able to rely on my knowledge in health and safety and knew what areas I needed to study more to provide adequate support to my site for environmental concerns,” he said. “One of the biggest things I took away from school was that you don’t have to know everything all the time, but you build up a database of resources so that you can provide the best information available to your fellow employees. "
Learn more about the Occupational Safety and Health program at UHCL, including application requirements and fees, by visiting www.uhcl.edu/science-engineering/departments/physical-applied-sciences/occupational-safety-health/.