SPARKtalks to Fire Up Education at AIHce EXP

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At AIHA, providing training solutions for every industrial hygienist (IH) and occupational and environment health and safety (OEHS) professional is high on the list of our top priorities. Alla Orlova, who in 2018 became our director of education, has been at the forefront of developing distance learning initiatives over the web. 

We caught up with her to find out what’s got her excited for 2019. 

AIHA: When we spoke last year, you were just settling into your role as director of education. What was the highlight of your first year? 

Orlova: My first year at AIHA ran by so fast. AIHce EXP in Philadelphia was definitely one of the highlights. I enjoyed speaking with IH/OH professionals about the conference offerings, and I attended a variety of sessions that the conference education and planning committees put together. One of the most successful events I helped develop was the general session on mitigating opioid exposure risks to first responders. The panel of experts drew attention to the many dangers workers face when dealing with the crisis.

AIHA: We’ve got another exciting AIHce EXP planned for 2019. What are some of the new and exciting educational activities that are slated for the conference this year? 

Orlova: I am excited to introduce the academic track with content developed for IH/OH students and young professionals to help enhance their academic goals. At the conference, students will share their research with peers and experienced professionals, participate in discussions, examine the health and safety career paths, and build work skills. Susan Arnold, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; Stephanie Griffin, Ph.D., University of Arizona; Shane Que Hee, UCLA; and John N. Zey, Ed.D., University of Central Missouri; are the academic track advisors and will moderate the academic track sessions at the conference. 

The newly created SPARKtalks​ are a fusion of the best parts of Ignite and TED Talk presentations. This format provides a casual, collegial atmosphere for attendees and will be a great start to this year’s conference. Thirteen SPARKtalks presenters will share a story about “One Moment in Time” and will talk about volunteering, battling serious illness, eradication of asbestos, post-hurricane recovery efforts, Ebola response, and other moments that had a profound effect on their life and career.

AIHA: What excites you the most about our industry in 2019?

Orlova: The IH/OH industry is evolving. Not only do IH/OH professionals protect worker health in the traditional sense of keeping the workplace healthy and safe, but they also protect people at home and in the community against hazards. 

Practitioners will find the Core Competencies for the Practice of Industrial/Occupational Hygiene digital book, originally published in 2012 and updated in 2018, helpful as a guide to further their professional and career development. 

The year 2019 will be another important one for the industry as we will continue making strides in a variety of content priority initiatives. The environmental scanning of community and occupational/worker health trends and drivers that will be conducted in 2019 will allow AIHA to identify potential changes affecting industrial hygiene and will inform our long-term planning. 

AIHA: This year’s conference is in Minneapolis. What are you looking forward to the most at the conference both during the conference and in Minneapolis itself? 

Orlova: I’d like to walk around the city, visit its parks and museums, and taste local cuisine. For the conference itself, I am mostly excited to see old friends and meet new ones and continue supporting them in achieving their goals of protecting worker health through the many education and content initiatives we’ll be offering and launching at AIHce EXP in Minneapolis. 

AIHA: Anything else you’d like to share to help our members prepare for the conference? 

Orlova: I am advising all conference speakers to check out the resources we have developed for them, attend webinars, and become expert presenters. Begin preparing for your presentation early, think of a great story to engage your audience, and draw a map of your presentation. 

When I taught, I shared course learning objectives at the beginning of the session; at the end of the presentation, participants provided me with feedback on whether the learning objectives were met upon completion of the course. 

We will also be having a webinar for all AIHce EXP presenters on April 4. It will provide valuable information about adult learning principles and scientific education presentation techniques. You won’t want to miss it! 

With these excellent resources and tips, the AIHce EXP speakers will be knocking their presentations out of the park. We’re excited about the academic track and SPARKtalks. We hope you are too!


Berrak Sarikaya is a natural conversation driver with an undeniable belief in the power of community. A proven content strategist and speaker, she resides in Seattle, WA. Follow her on Twitter.

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