SERC TALKS: “How Can a Systems Approach Help Critical Civil Infrastructure Become Smarter, More Sustainable and Resilient?” by Michael Salvato

SERC TALKS: “How Can a Systems Approach Help Critical Civil Infrastructure Become Smarter, More Sustainable and Resilient?” by Michael Salvato

April 28, 2021 12pm CT

ABSTRACT: Climate change, NetZero energy, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are all game changers for infrastructure providers. Inadequate and ill-prepared infrastructure will increase the consequences of rapid urbanization, extreme weather events, and digital disruption, driving up the costs to individuals, businesses, and society, reducing economic productivity, and undermining the quality of life for people and plants. To build smarter, more sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, cities will need to reimage the infrastructure services they provide and arrange deeply interconnected technological, social and environmental systems to do so. Infrastructure 4.0 is comprised, not just of physical assets and digital twins, but an interconnected web of social, institutional, and ecological systems. New, complex forms of socio-technological systems are emerging that require a synthesis across traditional disciplines of engineering, information technology, environmental science, and policy. Leaders in smart, sustainable cities are embracing information and communication technologies and other means to meet the needs of populations without compromising future generations, envisioning new possibilities, and developing transformational roadmaps for a smarter, more sustainable, and resilient future.

Dr. Layton awarded the Peggy L. & Chares Brittan ’65 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award

The 2021 Undergraduate Teaching Award for the Mechanical Engineering department was awarded to Dr. Astrid Layton in recognition of her undergraduate teaching excellence. Since joining the department in 2017, she has taught the following courses: MEEN 344 Fluid Mechanics, MEEN 401 Senior Design (studio & lecture), and MEEN 440/696 Bio-Inspired Engineering Design.

Two student-led conference papers accepted to the 2021 IDETC-CIE conference!

Three BiSSL students have had conference papers accepted to the 2021 International Design Engineering Technical Conference! Ph.D. candidate Abheek Chatterjee and MS student Tyler Wilson have co-authored a paper on modifying bio-inspired system design methodologies for supply chains, enabling the impact of storage to be considered when applying resilience characteristics from nature. MS student Garrett Hairston has had his first, first-authored paper accepted that focuses on using a system perspective to develop net-zero design guidelines for multi-use (industrial, residential, commercial) communities from biological food webs.

Abstract: “Supply chain policies and design efforts are traditionally focused on efficiency objectives such as reducing operational costs. With the occurrence of the most devastating pandemic in decades and the continually increasing prevalence of natural disasters, this focus has been challenged, and the need to focus on supply chain resilience has become apparent. Achieving long-lasting sustainable development in supply chains requires a balance of efficiency-focused measures that enhance economic and environmental sustainability and resiliency measures. Ecological Network Analysis has revealed a unique balance between pathway efficiency and redundancy in ecosystems’ network architecture. This enables both efficient operations under normal circumstances and resilience to perturbations. This same analysis can be used to evaluate the balance of sustainability and resilience in supply chain networks, providing insights into what kind of supply chain design and policy decisions lead to more ecosystem-like architectures. This study lays the groundwork for such efforts by studying four supply chain topologies (formed by prevalent supply chain strategies) using ENA. Inventory (storage) is not well understood in the typical flow analysis used in ENA but is an essential facet of supply chain design and must be included in a supply chain analysis. This study overcomes this limitation by proposing a method to include inventory in the ENA framework. The analysis conducted revealed two significant insights: (a) the agile supply chain strategy is the most ecologically similar and (b) it is possible that there are optimal inventory levels (given partnership strategies) to utilize bio-inspiration in supply chain design.”

Wilson, Tyler, Abheek Chatterjee, and Astrid Layton (2021) “Developing a Supply Chain Modeling Approach to Facilitate Ecology-Inspired Design for Sustainability and Resilience.” ASME 2021 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference, virtual, August.

Abstract: “Much emphasis is placed on the role of Net Zero Communities (NZCs) in achieving a sustainable future. Systems research on the topic, including the application of bio-inspired techniques already used on other human networks, is currently hindered by the lack of case studies documenting the structure and quantity of energy, water, and waste flows within realistic NZCs. This work proposes and preliminarily tests a method of generating a database of hypothetical-realistic NZCs by expanding the system boundaries for well-documented Eco-industrial Park (EIP) networks. The expansion includes residential and commercial actors from the community surrounding the EIP. Past studies using Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) to improve the environmental and economic performance of these EIPs have resulted in a quantitative database of case studies. Combining these industrial hubs to nearby residential, commercial, agricultural, etc. actors can generate potential multi-use networks on which similar design work can be conducted. Three EIP to NZC cases are generated and analyzed focusing on their system structure. Cyclicity, an ENA metric used to quantify the presence and complexity of cyclic pathways in a network, has been shown to promote the efficient use of resources in both biological and human networks. Cyclicity values for the original EIP networks, the community additions, and the potential NZC case studies reveals that there are many meaningful interactions that occur between actors that are only visible once the system boundaries are expanded to the NZC level. This offers a glimpse into the potential benefits of approaching the NZ problem, and sustainable living more generally, on a system scale – an analysis that will be further enabled by the generation of an NZC database initiated by this work.”

Hairston, Garrett, and Astrid Layton (2021) “An Eco-Industrial Park-Based Method for Net Zero Community Creation.” ASME 2021 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference, virtual, August.

Collaborative student-led conference paper accepted to the 2021 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

BiSSL MS student Samuel Blair has had his first, first-authored conference paper accepted to the American Society of Engineering Education 2021 annual conference! The conference was to be held in Long Beach, CA but unfortunately has since shifted to an entirely virtual format. The paper is titled “Bipartite Network Analysis Utilizing Survey Data to Determine Student and Tool Interactions in a Makerspace” and is a collaborative work with our partners at Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Julie Linsey and her MS student Henry Banks. The conference will take place July 26-29, 2021.

Abstract: “Engineering makerspaces are a powerful new tool in the educators’ toolbox. A growing body of empirical data demonstrates their benefits to student learning, but more needs to be done to ensure they meet their full potential. Analyzing the design of these spaces to maximize student tool interactions and identify barriers to entry supports goals for these spaces to be inclusive environments were all students are comfortable. The representation of student interactions with tools in a graph form enables analysis on the tools by mapping combinations between tools and shared student. The bipartite model of the network allows for students to be the “actors” while the tools are the “events” that students interact with. Using the one way interaction allows for a matrix simplifying the complex interactions in the space. The matrix can then be manipulated to yield important information about makerspaces. The results of this ongoing research propose advice regarding what tools and tool types are the most accessible to students, primarily high interaction tools such as basic 3D printers and handheld tools. Utilizing the analysis can also reveal how tools depend on higher interaction tools such as the advanced forms of 3D printing, as well as what student groups have may need extra support or outreach to increase their inclusion.”

Blair, S., Banks, H., Linsey, J., & Layton, A. (2021). Ecosystem Modularity as a Guide for Makerspaces Evaluations. Paper presented at the ASEE 2021 Conference & Exposition, virtual.

Research paper accepted to the Journal of Cleaner Production

BiSSL MS alum Jewel Williams just had her coauthored full-length research paper accepted and published in the Journal of Cleaner Production! The paper, titled “Matrix Trays: From Waste to Opportunities,” advances a circular economy approach and was done in collaboration with the Department of Architecture Dr. Ahmed K. Ali and his Ph.D. student Patricia Kio. The work couldn’t have been done without the 2019 Mechanical Engineering senior design team of Alexandra Stewart, Zachary Merrill, Austin Grosklags, Miguel Cervantes, and Joseph Bustillo. This team came up with a case study design that reused matrix trays – which are currently a major single-use plastic filling our landfills – as part of an interdisciplinary seed grant from Texas A&M.

Abstract: “Matrix Trays are single-use plastic carriers used to transport integrated chips and circuit board components during automated test and assembly processes for Printed Circuit Boards. These trays represent a significant yet consistent waste stream; primarily in the electronics industry and many other industries that integrate microchips into their products especially the automotive industry. By the end of 2017, the National Sword Policy which was implemented by China on plastic waste import from other countries and especially the United States catalyzed a huge crisis and forced manufacturers and companies to deal with their own plastic waste streams. This study presents two alternative approaches of reusing trays to the reduced conventional recycling practices which have caused used trays to remain in storage or be deposited in landfills. Approaches including a students’ design competition and a proof of concept case study for an autonomous shading device are presented. The shading device was designed, tested and validated. Trays were transformed from waste into 13 possible products showing that a circular economy and industrial symbiosis can be achieved by integrating multidisciplinary reuse approaches for by-product reuse and sustainable industry practices. Environmental and economic impacts were evaluated comparing reuse to recycling, combustion and landfilling. The results showed that reusing trays reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Ali, A., Layton, A., Kio, P., & Williams, J. (2021). Matrix Trays: From Waste to Opportunities Journal of Cleaner Production, 300. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126813