Dr. Michel Houtermans decided to study Mechanical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology because his big brother was studying it as well. The first three years he was a disaster in class because he was very good at taking things apart, but not in putting them back together: a true mechanical engineer. A lightning strike hit and he realised that disasters were bad for business. He joined the reliability department of Professor Brombacher for his final assignment and graduated Cum Laude in 1995. He found his niche and was happy.
Under the motto “no risk, no glory” he moved to Boston (U.S.A.) to join Dr. Dimitrios Karydas of the Risk Engineering department at FM Global as a research and project engineer. While working at FM Global he had the opportunity to cooperate and study with Professor George Apostolakis at the Nuclear Engineering department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although he took lots of risks, he was in excellent hands and got glory when he received his PhD in Safety and Risk Management in 2001.
In the mean time, he had joined in 1998 the German certification body TUV SUD in the U.S.A. No better place to learn functional safety than from the people that invented it. As, TUV SUD department manager responsible for functional safety for North and South America, he invented, created and marketed in 1999 the first functional safety people certification program. More than 10 years later it can easily be said that this program changed the functional safety world forever. Worldwide over ten thousand people have been trained of which many received TUV certification.
Since his first job at FM Global, Dr. Houtermans had the opportunity to participate and contribute to national and international safety committees like ISA S84, IEC 61508, IEC 61511 and others. At the age of twenty five he was the youngest committee member and one of the most knowledgeable ones in reliability and safety. He wrote part four of the ISA TR84 technical report (Determining SIL of a SIF via Markov Modelling). Unfortunately, he learned that unless you had grey hair it was very tough to be accepted as a safety professional. But that changed in his favour when he started to lose his hair and got his Ph.D. He is not sure which one of the two contributed more though.
On 2-2-2002 Dr. Houtermans founded the Risknowlogy company and turned his personal passion, risk, reliability and safety, into the only objective of the company. Today, Risknowlogy is a global operating company servicing end-users, engineering companies, system integrators, product suppliers, third parties and governments.
Dr. Houtermans is married and has two children. His wife had a good, risk free job but decided to join Risknowlogy anyway. She is an excellent risk manager. His oldest daughter shows no signs of engineering side effects, but is an expert arguer. If she does not decide to become a politician, he hopes she will join Risknowlogy as the company lawyer. His youngest daughter is still fearless, knows no risk, and takes everything apart. We all know what that means. To be updated in time.