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Disastrous Dinners

I have just come up with an idea this evening for a regular IChemE event. I will take the time in this post to get my idea into the screen before deciding if it is a good idea or not.


There are a few challenges that occur when trying to organise events for the local IChemE members group:

  • Getting consistency, we tend to only organise a few events. Getting ideas and people to take responsibility for organising more regular events is a challenge.
  • Location, people generally don't travel. If the event is held in Glasgow, very few people will travel through from Edinburgh. The same is true in reverse. And as for Falkirk or Grangemouth, no one travels through, and people in Grangemouth don't like to hang around for long.
  • Budget, there is none. It is easy enough to get venues for free but it is harder to organise catering, even simple teas and coffees.

I hope that the following idea will help overcome these issues. The idea came after listening to so many episodes of DisasterCast and hearing about accidents that I had never heard of before. I am particularly interested in the ones from other industries, yet they still provide useful things for those of us in the process industries to learn from.

The Pitch

Disastrous Dinners: A pub dinner followed by a Disaster1.

Each month I would host a presentation and discussion about a disaster, but unlike most process industry talks and courses, we will not restrict ourselves to Bopal, Piper Alpha and the other usual suspects. While we may well look at these disasters, I intend to cast a wider net and cover disasters from other industries such as rail and aviation. We may not restrict ourselves to actual historical events but could use fictional disasters as well. I would like to use each accident (or series of accidents) to provide a focus on a particular tool or hazard that process engineers should be aware of to help avoid future accidents.

The aim is to host the event in a venue that can serve dinner, then allow us to present the talk in a private room2. We would obviously be looking for a venue that would be free to use, but they would be able to make money off the food and drinks bought by the attendees. Unlike most talks that usually run for around 45 minutes, then have 15 minutes for questions (or similar proportions), I would like to reverse the setup. The initial presentation would be kept relatively short (15 to 30 minutes) and be used as a springboard for further questions and discussions within the room.

I think that the venues could be rotated between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falkirk (or Grangemouth), though if there is interest in hosting at an alternative location, then we can also go there. I am not sure whether it is better to have the presentation in the early evening after people get out of work, or later. It may even be better to try hosting a lunchtime forum instead.

As I said at the start of this post, this is just an idea I had tonight. I will let it rattle round my head for a bit longer before putting too much effort into it.


  1. Alternatively, we could skip dinner and just have disastrous drinks.
  2. alternatively this could be another venue nearby but it would be good if both venues could serve drinks
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