Nature provides a wealth of solutions that can inspire engineers to create better designs. The Primer on Natural Systems is developed as a tool for Systems Engineering professionals and Project Managers to introduce and integrate Natural Systems thinking and approaches into their processes and products. By asking “How can Nature help me solve this problem?” engineers can leverage living and non-living systems to provide inspiration for solutions to system engineering challenges. Download a free copy.
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.
BiSSL PhD student Abheek Chatterjee and alumn Colton Brehm (MS) just had their full-length research paper accepted and published in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling! The paper, titled “A Quantitative Benefits Evaluation of Ecologically-Inspired Nested Architectures for Industrial Networks,” investigates the use of ecological nestedness – a structural characteristic of ecological food webs, to guide the design of eco-industrial parks and other resource networks to improve it’s ability to survive network disturbances AND to guide inter-actor connections based on resource cost and distance between actors.
Abstract: “Industrial Symbiosis (IS), inspired by the highly effective resource utilization found in nature, advocates byproduct-exchange partnerships between industries to reduce raw material use, emissions, and waste generation while promoting economic growth. Ecological research on mutualistic ecosystems (such as plant-pollinator networks) has found a connection between high values of nestedness, a unique linkage distribution strategy, and effective resource utilization. The present work is the first to test the benefits of nested architectures for IS goals, a characteristic thus far overlooked in bio-inspired IS efforts. A generated large dataset of hypothetical-realistic Industrial Water Networks spanning the entire nestedness domain shows that highly nested designs significantly reduce resource consumption. Circumstances where these savings outweigh any additional infrastructure and operation costs are also shown, highlighting that low to moderate resource abundance and manageable geographical dispersion between participating industries (conditions that commonly generate interest in IS) are particularly favorable for nested architectures. Ecologically-similarly nested IS networks, especially those with highly connected high-throughput industries, are also found to have a reduction in negative impacts during pipeline disruptions. The results provide promising evidence that the principle of nestedness can be a powerful quantitative bio-inspired design guideline for IS, capable of simultaneously addressing environmental, economic, and resiliency concerns.”
Chatterjee, A., Brehm, C., & Layton, A. (2021). A Quantitative Benefits Evaluation of Ecologically-Inspired Nested Architectures for Industrial Networks. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 167. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2021.105423
“Whether intended or not, engineered, industrial systems often mirror those found in the natural world. Case in point: the relationship between today’s electrical power grid and the way food chains function.
Drawing on principles from bio-designed systems—in this case, the food web—will help scientists build more resilience into the electrical power grid, said Astrid Layton, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University. She collaborates with Katherine Davis, an A&M assistant professor of electrical engineering, on the project.
Dr. Debalina Sengupta is the Associate Director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Gas & Fuels Research Center, as well as the Water, Energy, and Food Nexus Coordinator in the Texas A&M Energy Institute at Texas A&M University.
Abstract: We are witnessing history, and living through it. Never before in recent times has a pandemic spread around the world and paralyzed nations, economies, resources, and most importantly, people, all at the same time. It has exposed vulnerabilities to systems in ways that we are yet to fathom. As we wade through solving the immediate human health concerns and crisis, there is a deeper question that we need to address. The role of different entities and players in the society need to be taken into consideration for determining the resilience to disasters of great magnitude.
Over the past two decades, statistics suggest that the intensity of natural disasters have been increasing, and the damages caused by them have been impacting the lives of millions. Hurricanes and flooding events have increasingly influenced coastal communities and given rise to terms as climate refugees. Disaster management has primarily been a top-down approach from governance perspectives. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 saw a comprehensive push towards disaster management strategies, and the need for emergency planning and implementation. However, the multiple failures during disasters and the resulting increase in losses to human lives, property, and progress of regions have yet again shown us that a convergent, interdisciplinary research approach is required to address the four stages of disaster management: Response, Recovery, Mitigation, and Preparedness. From analyzing vulnerabilities and risks to identifying root causes and critical elements in the full cycle of disaster management, interventions can be designed for timely recovery and minimizing loss of life. Deriving from concepts of sustainable development, this webinar will provide a framework for resilience studies, and seek to develop partnerships that can bring translational research components for innovative approaches towards disaster resilience.
The Mechanical Engineering Female Graduate Students (MEFEGs) is honored to invite Dr. CynthiaHipwell to share her experience in our monthly faculty lunch this Friday noon. Dr. Hipwell spent 21 years in industry – most of that as a data storage leader at Seagate Technology, and is known as a technology and business process innovator. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Inventors and is very passionate about promoting innovative thought and curriculum at Texas A&M. The faculty lunch will be discussion based and it is a good opportunity to interact with female faculties within MEEN department.
On this episode of Engineer This!” the SoundBytes team asks Dr. Astrid Layton about one of her research projects looking at the design of power grids using inspiration from nature. You can find a full transcript of the episode here.
Nature and industry may have more in common than we think. Dr. Astrid Layton, assistant professor in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, is taking concepts from food webs and applying them to power grids to find ways to help the systems run with more resilience.
At Texas A&M University, diversity is changing the face of engineering, so join us in celebrating Women’s History Month! Throughout March, hear what Texas A&M Mechanical Engineering students, staff, and faculty have to say about embracing differences.
This afternoon’s shoutout goes to Assistant Professor Dr. Astrid Layton:
“Just because a subject is hard for you and seems easy for everyone else, doesn’t mean it isn’t for you! The hard stuff is often the most interesting and rewarding, and it’s hard work – not talent that creates success.”