This hybrid lecture series provides a forum to discuss each strategic theme and build a broad community that includes industry professionals, researchers, educators, and students. We aim to break down traditional barriers between the lab and the field and accelerate research into practice.
Through presentations from leading experts and panel discussions that bring new insights, this series explores a range of perspectives on the five strategic directions. To be notified of future lectures in the series, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.
Can we engineer the energy transition? The science and engineering of bulk energy storage into concrete structures
September 29th, 2023, 9am – 10am EDT
If you mix cement, carbon black with water, the magic of chemistry generates an electron conductive volumetric wire, which permeates a load-bearing cement-based matrix. Herein we show, how this magic of chemistry can be used to build a scalable supercapacitor technology for energy storage, which everyone can build into their homes and roads. Possible applications include the energy autarkic home, self-charging roads (by electromagnetic induction) and intermittent energy storage for wind energy and tidal waves. Availability of cement and carbon black makes this technology a good candidate for the urgently needed energy transition from fossil fuel to renewable energies, which puts us, Civil Engineers, in the driver seat of engineering the energy transition through our built infrastructure, brick-by-brick, road-by-road for all.
Franz-Josef Ulm is Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at MIT. A structural engineer by training he joined MIT in 1999, where he is responsible for Materials and Structures. He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering, of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Engineering Mechanics of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- Ryan Culligan, Design Principal at Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM)
- Lindsey Kerkez, Environment and Infrastructure Engineer at the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)
Smart Infrastructure Finance | Adopting Digital Infrastructure in a Digital Society: A Financially and Environmentally Sustainable Path to Integrating Intelligent Infrastructure, with Tim Sylvester
April 13, 2023, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EDT
Society has become increasingly reliant on digital technology, but public infrastructure has not yet evolved to support and enable these social, commercial, and municipal needs. Industry migration to renewable energy and Big Data continues to alter the way we live and work, and growing demand for connected, electric, and autonomous vehicles will require more than ever-more-expensive vehicles traveling on poorly maintained, deteriorating traditional roadways. Our aging transportation infrastructure needs to be transformed and digitized to support public demands for existing technology and enable the evolution of those needs over future generations. Leveraging new approaches to digital infrastructure, data analytics, and modern financing reduces a daunting task into an approach that revolutionizes public infrastructure while incentivizing sustainable planning and implementation strategies.
Tim Sylvester is Founder and CEO of Integrated Roadways. Tim has an electrical and computer engineering background and nearly two decades of experience in the construction industry, where he honed his project management and entrepreneur skills. Tim saw the road construction industry was ripe for a technology upgrade and used his engineering background coupled with his construction trade experience to form Integrated Roadways. Tim has been featured in numerous regional and national publications and other media, including CNN and the Wall Street Journal. He has won multiple awards for engineering, innovation, entrepreneurship, and other related honors. Some accolades include ENR Midwest “Top 20 under 40”, EDC-KC Cornerstone Award, Kauffman “Entrepreneurial All-Star”, and more.
- Tim Slusser, Chief of Mobility Innovation, City of Detroit
- Rick Geddes, Professor, Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy and Director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy
Adaptation | Urban Engineering: New Strategies for a Resilient and Sustainable Future, with Jerome Hajjar
March 10, 2023, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET
Jerome F. Hajjar discusses “Urban Engineering: New Strategies for a Resilient and Sustainable Future” and how it relates to adaptation. A confluence of opportunities and national and international grand challenges are influencing current directions in the design of urban regions as populations expand. This presentation will summarize new developments to create resilient and sustainable cities through research on the built environment across several themes. Research on resilience highlights the development of structural systems that are able to be returned to use quickly after extreme events. Sustainable engineering, in turn, highlights research on strategies for developing new structural systems that greatly decrease the amount of energy, material waste, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions in construction and use of buildings and other structures. Urban engineering summarizes approaches for conducting regional simulations to predict the impacts and opportunities across urban regions that are designed with more sustainable and resilient civil engineering solutions. By directly addressing resilience and sustainability in structural design and regional assessment, this work offers insights into how engineering innovations can be used to create a new generation of solutions for urban regions. A panel discussion will follow the lecture.
- Lawrence F. Kruth, Kruth Engineering, LLC, Former Vice President of Engineering & Research at AISC
- Jason McCormick, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
- Tabitha Stine, General Manager of Construction Solutions Services at Nucor Corporation
Smart Infrastructure Finance | The transformational role of data for democratized digital project delivery with Peter Adriaens
March 18, 2022, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Peter Adriaens, U-M Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, discusses “The Transformational Role of Data for Democratized Digital Project Delivery” and how it relates to smart infrastructure finance.
Most investments in infrastructure projects take the form of (municipal) bonds, government and private debt and private equity, a form of financing that cannot be easily converted to cash. This limits the type of investor who will engage in projects. Data provides near real time insights into performance, structural health and use, much like share prices update as new information becomes available to inform buyers and sellers. As a result, data from physical infrastructure is setting the stage for a new software-as-a-service (SaaS)-like business and financing model where data contracts can be securitized, licensed and used for new infrastructure applications and services. By envisioning data as the informational stock (or collateral) of infrastructure, better pricing of its value, and improved liquidity of investments, are already starting to change designs and financing mechanisms that maximize performance delivery. Ultimately, by decreasing reliance of financing on the tax base of communities, access to quality infrastructure services will become more democratized, as data-driven revenue starts contributing to the funding mechanism.
- Britany Affolter-Caine, Executive Director, Michigan’s University Research Corridor
- Mayank Gupta, Director, Data Analytics & Digital Solutions, WSP
- Tim Sylvester, Founder and CEO, Integrated Roadways
Autonomy | The outlook for automation of road transportation systems with Steven Shladover
February 17, 2022, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Although media stories have for the past decade been hailing the imminent availability of vehicles that will completely take over the driving task from humans, reality will be far more prosaic. The coming decades will see increasingly wide availability of driving assistance systems that operate under continuous supervision of human drivers to enhance safety and driving comfort and convenience. The automated driving systems that perform the complete dynamic driving task are likely to be limited to specific commercial fleet applications, under tightly constrained geographic and operational conditions, and with remote human assistance, for the foreseeable future. This lecture will explain the reasoning behind these predictions based on the presenter’s nearly fifty years of experience working on automated driving technology and planning issues.
Dr. Steven Shladover has been working on the development of road vehicle automation systems since 1973, beginning with his master’s and doctoral thesis research at M.I.T. His core studies were in vehicle dynamics and control systems in mechanical engineering, but he also studied the entire transportation systems curriculum in civil engineering. Following completion of his doctorate, he worked for eleven years at a Silicon Valley technology consultancy before returning to the academic world by working with the Institute of Transportation Studies of the University of California at Berkeley to help create the California PATH Program.
- Kara Kockelman, Dewitt Greer Centennial Professor of Transportation Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
- Reuben Sarkar, President and CEO, American Center for Mobility
Enhancing Human Habitat Experience | Climate change, disasters, and migration systems: A research agenda with Elizabeth Fussell
February 8, 2022, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
While weather-related disasters happen regularly, protective infrastructure and building codes usually prevent population loss. Hurricane Katrina’s devastating effects on New Orleans’ levee system and the built environment in other coastline communities in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005 is the exception that proves this rule. Or is it? Empirical studies of hurricane exposure and county-level population change show heterogeneous patterns of post-hurricane population trends. This presentation reviews research on this topic using the weather and population data currently available, and then considers the data and methods that would allow us to answer key questions about disaster-related migration in the US. Specifically, which disasters produce out-migration responses? Where have residents who migrated from disaster-affected places resettle? How do migration systems help us predict post-disaster residential mobility? Which types of residents are most likely to move from disaster-affected places? A transdisciplinary and community-engaged research team is necessary to effectively pursue this research agenda and use that knowledge to prepare for and protect against disaster impacts.
Elizabeth Fussell is Professor of Population Studies and Environment & Society at Brown University and Editor-in-Chief of the Springer journal, Population & Environment. She earned her doctoral degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Fussell’s research focuses on the causes and consequences of migration. Since 2005, when she was an Assistant Professor at Tulane University and Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, she has investigated the long-term effects of that disaster on the residential mobility, health, and wellbeing of the residents of New Orleans using innovative methods and datasets. She has extended this research agenda to study the effects of hurricanes and other exogenous shocks on migration and internal migration systems in the United States with a new focus on Puerto Rico. Fussell’s research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. Her research findings are published in Nature Climate Change, Demography, American Journal of Public Health, Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, Population, Space, & Place, Population & Environment, and Social Science & Medicine among other scholarly journals. Fussell is an author on the Fifth National Climate Assessment’s Chapter on Human Social Systems.
- Seth Guikema, Professor and Co-Director, Center for Risk Analysis Informed Decision Engineering, University of Michigan
- Pamela J Jenkins, Professor of Sociology, University of New Orleans
- Liz Maly, Associate Professor, Office for International Research Collaboration, International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University, Japan
Adaptation | Adaptation to sea level rise: Dutch experiences and global challenges with Bas Jonkman
January 21, 2022, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Sea level rise and climate change are a major threat for low-lying delta areas. This contribution will focus on the effects of various sea-level rise scenarios for the Dutch flood protection and water management system, and the options for adaptation. The role of infrastructural and nature-based solutions will be discussed as well as their scalability and limits in the context of future conditions. Moreover, the costs and feasibility of future adaptation will be highlighted. The final part of the presentation will focus on the possibilities and limitations of flood risk reduction for US and international deltas.
Bas Jonkman is a professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Delft University, the Netherlands. He holds the chair of Integral Hydraulic Engineering, which focuses on research and education in the fields of hydraulic structures and flood risk. He holds a PhD degree from TU Delft and has worked for the Dutch government, Royal Haskoning DHV and UC Berkeley. His research interests include flood risk management, disaster management, and the integral design of hydraulic infrastructure, such as flood defenses and storm surge barriers. He has been involved in post-disaster and design studies in the Netherlands, New Orleans, Houston, Mozambique and various countries in South East Asia. Dr. Jonkman is currently leading a number of national and European research projects focusing on climate adaptation and strategies for flood risk reduction, including storm surge barriers and nature-based solutions.
- Jane McKee Smith, Senior Research Scientist, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
- Louis Armstrong, President and CEO, Kleinfelder
- Okey Nwogu, President, Consultant, Omega Hydrodynamics Research; retired UM Naval Architecture Dept