Layton Invited Keynote at Texas A&M Regional Engineering Conference, hosted by the Student Engineers’ Council

The judges for TREC 2020 (organizers Laura and Keeton on the far left and right) included representatives from Phillips 66 and Caterpillar.

The final presentations of the 2020 Texas A&M Regional Engineering Conference (TREC) were a huge success! The student teams presented innovative bio-inspired designs that could have a real impact on hurricane prone areas. A lot of the students had first hand experience with the problems they were looking to solve.

First prize went to the INSPIDERED team from SWE! They created a spider silk glass cover to protect from and prevent shattered glass from falling into homes and the environment – protecting clean up crews from glass shards. Congratulations!

I’m excited to help kick-off the Texas A&M Regional Engineering Conference (TREC) this Saturday with a keynote speech! TREC co-chairs Laura Orellana and Keeton Bailey have done an excellent job creating an impactful problem statement for the interdisciplinary freshmen teams to work on for the next three weeks.

TREC is an event hosted annually by the Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) at Texas A&M Engineering to foster professionalism and interdisciplinary collaboration among freshmen by developing a solution to a sustainability-related problem and presenting their product 3 weeks later.

It’s not too late to register!

Invited J. Mike Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Seminar

Honored to have been invited to give our department’s graduate seminar later today, I’m looking forward to it! Feel free to stop by if you’re around, I’ll be talking about my research regarding “Using biological inspiration to improve the design of complex human-engineered networks.”

Brief description: Biological ecosystems have been through millions of years of R&D, producing complex networks of interacting species that are able to support individual needs while maintaining system-level functions. In this talk, Dr. Layton will show that these networks offer a relatively untapped source of design inspiration for improving the sustainability and resilience of our human-engineered networks. Quantitative descriptors and analysis techniques are adapted from ecology through close collaboration with ecologists, enabling desirable ecosystem characteristics to be used as optimization guides for industrial resource networks (or eco-industrial parks, EIPs), water networks, supply chains, and power grids. Characteristics such as a high level of cycling of materials/energy within the system and a unique balance between redundant and efficient pathways are connected back to the achievement of traditional engineering goals such as cost and robustness.

Layton and Ali Present at A&M College of Architecture’s 21st Annual Research Symposium

Natural, Built, Virtual — the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s 21st Annual Research Symposium

(L to R) Dr. Ahmed Ali and Dr. Astrid Layton

Our collaborative and multidisciplinary research on by-product reuse and supporting a circular economy will be presented by Mechanical Engineering’s Dr. Astrid Layton and Architecture’s Dr. Ahmed Ali today at the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s 21st Annual Research Symposium “Natural, Built, Virtual”

The presentation will cover the past year of our project ” Matrix Trays: Waste to Opportunities,” a seed grant project supported by Texas A&M’s President’s Excellence Fund. Read more about the outcome of the Mechanical Engineering Senior Design component of the project here:

BiSSL Student Varuneswara Panyam Gives Seminar Presentation for the Energy and Power Group

The presentation (in A&M’s Electrical & Computer Engineering department on November 26th at 3pm in ETB 1003) will cover preliminary research from his MS on redesigning the modern power grid for robustness following principles from Nature’s ecosystems. All are welcome!


Abstract: Extreme events continue to show that current power grid configurations, designed for efficiency, are vulnerable to disturbances. Naturally robust ecological networks present a potential source of robust design guidelines for modern power grids. Ecosystems balance pathway efficiency with redundancy to achieve robust network structure. Structural similarities between these two system-types support the application of ecological properties and analysis techniques to power grid design. In the talk, I will discuss the analogy between the two systems and an optimization model that our group has created to reconfigure a power grid to mimic ecosystems’ robust behavior.

Bio: Varuneswara Panyam is an MS student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Shiv Nadar University in 2016. His Ph.D. research is focused on bio-inspired design of power systems.