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Resiliency and Sustainability Workshop

Undergraduate Seminar in Resiliency, Sustainability, and Asset Management.

November 22, 2019

The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences and the Minor in Resiliency & Sustainability of Engineering Systems hosted the Undergraduate student research seminar in Resiliency, Sustainability, and Asset Management. Students majoring in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Chemical Engineering, Economics, Science-Business, and Electrical Engineering, had the opportunity to present their research projects to classmates, professors, and alumni. Details of their research can be found in their abstracts


Resiliency and Sustainability Workshop.

April 5 - 6, 2019

The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences and the Minor in Resiliency & Sustainability of Engineering Systems hosted the Resiliency and Sustainability Workshop: Interdependent Critical Infrastructure and Environmental Assets. This workshop brought together experts and researchers across a set of interdisciplinary fields to discuss the state of the art in assessing interdependent infrastructure networks and environmental assets, with the explicit goal of establishing future research and market needs. In total, we had 57 participants and attendants, including 31 faculty/staff/industry reps from ND and other institutions, 7 graduate students, and 19 undergraduate students.

Resilient and sustainable assets – in the context of multiple hazards, the environment, society, and economic constraints – require targeted mitigation to lessen the impacts from human activity and future disasters, as well as resiliency to recover quickly from those hazards. Importantly, the move towards more sustainable and resilient communities, both nationally and globally, requires informed leaders to be able to identify and evaluate the best paths forward given the complex interplay between technology, the environment, ethics, law and policy, business, and economics. These leaders must be able to:

  • Recognize and assess the complex interactions and interdependencies within and between critical infrastructure, engineering networks, social systems, and our environment.
  • Recognize the technical, social, economic, and ethical aspects of a commitment to sustainable and resilient development.
  • Recognize and apply scientific principles, processes, and practices to engineered infrastructure and systems that result in sustainable and resilient development.
  • Develop a functional knowledge of the historical and economic frameworks that guide engineering regulations and public policy.

Speakers were directed to prepare in advance presentations specifically addressing life-cycle and hazard impact measurement methodologies and metrics for the system(s) pertaining to their specific field of study, to identify (and provisionally quantify for purposes of discussion) interdependencies between their system(s) of interest and other built or natural systems (see Figure 1 for an example), to identify (and provisionally quantify for purposes of discussion) temporal recovery factors post-disaster related to their system(s), and to identify critical research needs. 

Figure 1. Quantifying (relatively) interdependencies between electrical networks and other related network systems[1]

Importance and potential impact of research activity.

Past workshops and summits on resilience, sustainable development, and community risks have been hosted by the US National Academies[2] and by NATO,[3] resulting in the publications cited below. However, these meetings have either focused on specific events (in the case of the National Academies) or have been primarily focused on limited methodological domains (in the case of NATO). The Resiliency and Sustainability workshop hosted at Notre Dame was explicitly focused on leveraging and enhancing current competencies and resources to provide future opportunities for researchers to pursue a growing selection of interdisciplinary NSF research project solicitations in this field. 

The resilience of the built environment to natural and manmade or human-induced hazards has historically focused on the intensity and frequency of hazards, as well as the robustness of individual physical assets (individual buildings, bridges, water bodies, forests, etc), with less emphasis on an understanding of the interdependencies amongst various systems, as well as the performance of spatially-distributed built infrastructure and natural asset networks. The resilience of “lifeline” networks (electric power, transportation, telecommunications, potable water, stormwater/wastewater, liquefied/gas fuels, and environmental systems) and other distributed natural and infrastructure assets (e.g., flood control networks) play a critical role in the ability of society to rapidly recover after a major disaster. Given the growing complexity of interactions amongst “systems of systems” in our modern communities, research groups globally[4],[5] as well as research funding agencies such as NSF (see Table 1 below), have expanded their focus on this growing field of interdisciplinary (and uniquely impactful) study. In particular, NSF recently identified the need for interdisciplinary research to solve complex, networked societal problems as one of its primary foci,[6] primarily in regard to critical infrastructure systems.[7]   

Table 1. Limited selection of National Science Foundation (NSF) solicitations for interdisciplinary infrastructural-natural systems-related research projects (not an exhaustive list)



Brief synopsis


Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP 2.0)

This CRISP 2.0 solicitation responds both to national needs on the resilience of critical infrastructures and to increasing NSF emphasis on transdisciplinary research. In this context, the solicitation is one element of the NSF-wide Risk and Resilience activity, with the overarching goal of advancing knowledge in support of improvement of the nation’s infrastructure resilience.


Civil Infrastructure Systems  (CIS)

The Civil Infrastructure Systems (CIS) program supports fundamental and innovative research in the design, operation and management of civil infrastructure that contributes to creating smart, sustainable and resilient communities at local, national and international scales. This program focuses on civil infrastructure as a system in which interactions between spatially- and functionally- distributed components and intersystem connections exist. All critical civil infrastructure systems are of interest, including transportation, power, water, pipelines and others.


Leading Engineering for America's Prosperity, Health, and Infrastructure  (LEAP HI)

The LEAP HI program challenges the engineering research community to take a leadership role in addressing demanding, urgent, and consequential challenges for advancing America’s prosperity, health, and infrastructure.  LEAP HI proposals confront engineering problems that are too complex to yield to the efforts of a single investigator --- problems that require sustained and coordinated effort from interdisciplinary research teams, with goals that are not achievable through a series of smaller, short-term projects.  LEAP HI projects perform fundamental research that may lead to disruptive technologies and methods, lay the foundation for new and strengthened industries, enable notable improvements in quality of life, or reimagine and revitalize the built environment.

Goals and mechanisms for translation to scholarly products, management/policy, or new proposals.

Our goal was to develop an improved understanding of the resilience of spatially-distributed infrastructure and environmental networks to extreme hazards through new methodologies, with particular application to critical infrastructure systems and natural assets.  In the face of our widely varied hazard environments, and based on engineering science evidence, this workshop and future related projects will enable researchers to anticipate critical infrastructure vulnerabilities and recoverabilities, and protect and transform the built and natural environments to support thriving communities.

The technical scope of the workshop is symbolized in Figure 2. The triple layered planes in the center of the logo represent the three historical critical infrastructure groups: water, energy, and transportation[12]. The overlapped configuration of the layers symbolizes the interdependencies amongst these critical built asset groups (see Figure 3). The vertically placed layers doubly symbolize “vertical” infrastructure systems (i.e., buildings, communication towers, etc.) which are just as important to communities in recovering from disaster in this modern age as are the “horizontal” assets.


The stem of the shamrock in Figure 2 is curving upward from left to right in order to represent the recovery portion of the temporal resilience curve (see Figure 4). Furthermore, the leafed portion of the shamrock at the end of this stem reminds us that truly resilient systems (natural and environmental) usurp their original performance and flourish after recovery. The shamrock itself also represents the natural, vegetative elements of a community that is designed in concert with nature instead of against it. Of course, the shamrock also represents the Catholic and Irish heritage of the University of Notre Dame.

The hexagonal frame of the logo in Figure 2 represents the six components of community capital: built, economic, human/social, cultural, natural, and political (see Figure 5), all of which are needed to resist, sustain, and recover from major disasters. Quantified community resilience indicators have been assigned within these groupings in past research.[16], [17] The colors represent the elements of nature with which we seek to build in concert. Blue represents the water and the sky, and green represents the vegetative elements of the earth. Of course, blue and green are also colors associated formally with the University of Notre Dame.

[1] Provided by opening keynote speaker Vilas Mujumdar, formerly of NSF

[2] https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13178/increasing-national-resilience-to-hazards-and-disasters-the-perspective-from

[3] https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-94-024-1123-2

[4] https://wiki.canterbury.ac.nz/display/QuakeCore/Special+Project+1%3A+Spatially-distributed+Infrastructure

[5] http://resiliencechallenge.nz

[6] https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/convergent.jsp

[7] https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/infrastructure.jsp

[8] https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505277

[9] https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=13352

[10] https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505475&org=NSF

[11] https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13457/disaster-resilience-a-national-imperative

[12] Telecommunications infrastructure was historically grouped with transportation, although it is usually considered as its own infrastructure group in modern times.

[13] http://civil.gmu.edu/people/elise-miller-hooks

[14] https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-94-024-1123-2

[15] NZ Office of the Prime Minister, provided by Roger Fairclough of neoLEAF Global (http://neoleafglobal.co.nz/)

[16] https://ascelibrary.org/doi/pdf/10.1061/%28ASCE%29NH.1527-6996.0000193

[17] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250147250_Disaster_Resilience_Indicators_for_Benchmarking_Baseline_Conditions