BiSSL Ph.D. Student Emily Payne Chosen as a TEX-E Fellow

Texas Entrepreneurship Exchange for Energy (TEX-E) is a first-of-a-kind collaboration among The University of Texas at AustinTexas A&M UniversityUniversity of HoustonRice University, and Prairie View A&M University—powered by Greentown Labs and MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship—to create a powerful student-driven entrepreneurship ecosystem in Texas. More information can be found here:

A&M Feature on BiSSL Ph.D. Student Emily Payne

“Fashioning an engineering education via discipline and design” by Grace Dalton.

“Growing up, Emily Payne enjoyed drawing and being creative. In high school, she took practicum-level fashion courses involving practical applications of fashion theory and excelled in her projects.
Trace the pattern. Measure. Check numbers. Cut and stitch. Fit the garment. Adjust and tweak. Review results. Those were the steps she carefully followed when creating a garment in high school. It seemed inevitable that Payne would become a designer until she found herself contemplating what seemed like a different world entirely — engineering. …”

BiSSL Ph.D. Student Hadear Hassan Awarded 2023 Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Award

Dr. Astrid Layton and award-winning BiSSL Ph.D. student Hadear Hassan.

Hadear has been awarded the 2023 Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Award for teaching!

Each year they select a group of graduate students to receive the Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Awards in one of two categories: Excellence in Research-Doctoral and Excellence in Teaching-Master’s and Doctoral. Student nominations arrive from faculty advisors or departments, and nomination represents a true honor and accomplishment, due to strenuous eligibility requirements. A panel of reviewers including faculty and administrators chooses award recipients.

“The Distinguished Graduate Student Awards recognize the top tier of Texas A&M’s graduate students for exemplifying our core values in classrooms and laboratories. These awards have been presented annually since 1965 thanks to generous gifts to The Association of Former Students’ Annual Fund,” said Porter S. Garner III ’79, President and CEO of The Association of Former Students. “We are pleased to be able to honor these exceptional Aggies for their important contributions to Texas A&M’s world-class teaching and cutting-edge research.”

4 BiSSL Students have Papers Accepted to IDETC-CIE 2023

We’re happy to share that 3 BiSSL papers, written by 4 BiSSL researcher students, have been accepted for publication and presentation in Boston, MA in August at IDETC-CIE 2023.

BiSSL alum Samuel Blair, in collaboration with our Georgia Tech partners Dr. Julie Linsey and Claire Crose, has a paper accepted to the Design Theory and Methodology division titled “Measuring the Health of Makerspaces During Large Disruptions Such as the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

As the popularity of makerspaces and maker culture has skyrocketed over the past two decades, numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the benefits of makerspaces for university students and how to best establish an inclusive, welcoming environment in these spaces on college campuses. However, unprecedented disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have the potential to greatly affect the way that students interact with makerspaces and the benefits that result. In this study, a survey asking about prior makerspace involvement, tool usage, and student demographics was administered to students who use academic makerspaces at two large public universities. Survey data was collected for three semesters (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Spring 2022) and spanned both during and after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. To quantify the differences between the semesters, nestedness and connectance metrics inspired by ecological plant-pollinator networks were utilized. These ecological metrics allow for the structure of the interactions of a network to be measured, with nestedness highlighting how students interact with tools and connectance with the quantity of student-to-tool interaction. The network analysis was used to better gauge the health of the makerspace and the type and frequency of interactions between tools. The raw survey data combined with the ecological metrics provided unique insight into the struggles the makerspaces encountered throughout the pandemic. It was found that nestedness, a measure of system stability, decreases with a decrease in tool usage. Additionally, the higher the connectance the more students interacted with the space. Utilizing metrics such as these and better understanding student tool interactions can aid makerspaces in monitoring their success and maintaining a healthy and welcoming space, as well as tracking the current health of the space. In combination with the survey results, a deep understanding of what challenges the space is facing can be captured.

Crose, C., S. Blair, A. Layton, and J. Linsey. (2023) “Measuring the Health of Makerspaces During Large Disruptions such as the COVID-19 Pandemic.” ASME 2023 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC-CIE). Boston, MA, USA.

BiSSL Ph.D. students Hadear Hassan and Emily Payne collaborated on the paper titled “Quantifying the Sustainability and Robustness of Manufacturing Systems Using Energy and Ecological Network Analyses,” to be presented by Hadear in August in the Design For Manufacturing and Life Cycle division (DFMLC).

Global issues, such as supply chain disruptions, have increased awareness of the importance of manufacturing systems being able to quickly bounce back from disturbances. This necessary response is in addition to the importance of mitigating climate change, maintaining market competitiveness, and eliminating unnecessary waste. Two analysis types are compared here: 1) a thermodynamic exergy analysis to quantify a manufacturing system’s energy and material efficiency and 2) an ecological network analysis as a quantitative representation of the system’s sustainability and robustness. Several manufacturing structures, including different processes ranging from the traditional to advanced, like injection molding and binder jetting, are examined in terms of the system response to changes. The findings indicate that the thermodynamic approach efficiently evaluates the efficacy of energy and resource conversion to create a final product. The ecological network approach was also found to provide useful insights on both the environmental efficiency of the systems as well as the resilience. These results are useful when combined for suggesting system layouts and operations that holistically improve a manufacturing system’s design. The findings indicate that existing manufacturing infrastructure needs to be redesigned to better withstand and recover from unforeseen disruptions. Introducing features such as recyclability and combining multiple types of manufacturing processes can enhance the overall resilience of the system. The work suggests that the bio-inspired systems analysis approach when coupled with connectivity and energy-related factors can lead to enhanced manufacturing system designs.

Hassan, H., E. Payne, and A. Layton. (2023) “Quantifying the Sustainability and Robustness of Manufacturing Systems Using Energy and Ecological Network Analyses.” ASME 2023 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC-CIE). Boston, MA, USA.

BiSSL Ph.D. student Emily Payne and undergraduate alum Hannah Wagner collaborated on the paper titled “Resilience and Sustainability in Certified Green Buildings: Applying Ecosystem Concepts to Aid in More Dynamic Green Communities,” to be presented by Emily in August in the Design For Manufacturing and Life Cycle division (DFMLC).

Sustainable and resilient buildings ensure safety and lifespan while also benefiting the environment. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one respectable certification that many buildings can receive to ensure that they are meeting future climate and energy goals. However, LEED buildings have credits that do not necessarily agree with creating a sustainable environment. When comparing the orientation of LEED points and their relationship to the building and community to ecological structures, we found that a rearrangement of categories can provide visualization for organized recycling and higher cyclicity through ecological network applications. This relationship was applied to a new scorecard which has results indicating that if designers choose to meet criteria where one credit in each grouping is implemented in construction, then a sustainable building can still be efficient as well as recognized as a green building.  

Payne, E., H. Wagner and A. Layton. (2023) “Resilience and Sustainability in Certified Green Buildings: Applying Ecosystem Concepts to Aid in More Dynamic Green Communities.” ASME 2023 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC-CIE). Boston, MA, USA.

Two new BiSSL Journal Papers Accepted!

Two journal papers have recently been accepted for publication involving BiSSL student alumni as authors/co-authors and collaborators.

“Ecological Robustness-Oriented Grid Network Design for Resilience Against Multiple Hazards” in IEEE Transactions on Power Systems by Hao Huang, Varuneswara Panyam, Astrid Layton, and Katherine Davis

“A Comparison of Graph-Theoretic Approaches for Resilient System of Systems Design” in ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering by Abheek Chatterjee, Cade Helbig, Richard Malak, and Astrid Layton

Two Successful BiSSL MS Defenses!

Samuel Blair and Luis Rodriguez both successfully defended their MS theses! Luis will be staying in the BiSSL group for his Ph.D. and Samuel is starting a role in industry this summer. We’re all so proud of them!

Samuel’s thesis is titled: “A Bio-Inspired Network Approach to Improve Understanding of Engineering Makerspaces” and Luis his thesis is titled: “Ecosystem Decentralization as a Design Guidelines for Resilient Water Networks.” Both have multiple conference papers published on their thesis research and have journal papers currently under review.

Most of the BiSSL group. (L-R) Luis Rodriguez, Samuel Blair, Abheek Chatterjee, Amira Bushagour, Hadear Hassan, Emily Payne, and Alexander Duffy.

Two BiSSL Papers Presented at the Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER2023)

Abheek Chatterjee and Luis Rodriguez are presenting their first-authored papers at the annual CSER conference hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The conference is centered around “Systems Engineering Toward a Smart and Sustainable World.”

Urban water distribution networks have provided potable water to communities and households worldwide over the last century. Within the last two decades, there has been a rise in complications with water distribution systems meeting demands. Urban water distributions fail to meet demands due to increases in natural and man-made disturbances, population growth, and aging water distribution network structures. These issues have caused urban water distribution system designers and decision-makers to shift their interests from focusing solely on efficiency to designs capable of meeting customer potable water demands under normal operations and during disturbances. Ecology, specifically biological ecosystems, provides system resilience inspiration, taken from their structure and functioning that has survived disturbances over millions of years. The work here investigates mimicking the decentralization of food webs to improve network resilience by incorporating decentralized water storage tanks, using the established Two Loop Network (TLN) as a case study. TLN is an introductory water network provided by the University of Exeter for system engineers and designers to test optimization and exploratory techniques. The case study was selected due to its simplistic design which allowed the authors to understand the effects of decentralizing the network toward improving its ability to handle disruptions. The findings suggest decentralization can improve the water network resilience a minimum of three times as much as the original network’s design. Furthermore, introducing decentralization was also found to increase the system’s ability to meet the demand for all nodes during disruptions, something the original case was unable to accomplish while simultaneously reducing the amount of freshwater consumed during disruptions.

(2023) Rodriguez, L.; A. Chatterjee; A. Layton. “Ecological Decentralization for Improving the Resilient Design of Urban Water Distribution Networks.” 21st Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER). Hoboken, New Jersey, USA.

A microgrid is a localized energy grid that can disengage from the traditional grid and operate independently. Microgrids can be conceptualized as System of Systems: networked integration of constituent systems that together achieve novel capabilities. Improving resilience (the ability to survive and recover from disruptions) and reducing the cost of energy are critical considerations in microgrid design. However, microgrid resilience evaluation techniques require explicit disruption models – information that is not readily available in the early design stages. Therefore, these models cannot inform early-stage design decisions when changes can be made affordably. Recent research has indicated that Ecological Network Analysis is a promising tool for the design of resilient and affordable System of Systems. However, this approach has not yet been tested as a tool for microgrid design. This work provides an adapted Ecological Network Analysis framework that accounts for two unique architectural features of microgrids: (a) energy storage, and (b) integration of different types of energy generation technology. The Ecological Network Analysis based assessment of microgrid architectures is compared against their resilience and cost of energy evaluations using a state-of-the-art tool. The results of the comparison provide support for the use of Ecological Network Analysis as a reliable early-stage decision-support tool for resilient microgrid design.

(2023) Chatterjee, A.; A. Bushagour; A. Layton. “Resilient Microgrid Design Using Ecological Network Analysis.” 21st Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER). Hoboken, New Jersey, USA.

BiSSL MS Energy Student Alexander Duffy defends his thesis!

Masters of Energy student Alexander Duffy successfully defended his master’s thesis on Friday. The committee consisted of BiSSL head Dr. Astrid Layton, Dr. Katherine Davis from Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Dr. Helen Reed from Aerospace Engineering. His thesis was titled Design and analysis of satellite networks for ecological resilience.”

Alexander Duffy defends his MS thesis research

BiSSL Ph.D. Student Abheek Chatterjee defends his thesis!

The first Ph.D. student to graduate from BiSSL, Abheek Chatterjee, successfully defended his dissertation on Wednesday! The committee consisted of BiSSL head Dr. Astrid Layton, Drs. Richard Malak and Douglas Allaire from Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg from Industrial & Systems Engineering. His thesis was titled An Investigation of Ecologically-Inspired Architecting Principles for Resilient System of Systems Design.”