National Academies Press: OpenBook

Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2009 Symposium (2010)

Chapter: Introduction--Seth Guikema and Patrick O'Mara

« Previous: Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure
Suggested Citation:"Introduction--Seth Guikema and Patrick O'Mara." National Research Council. 2010. Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2009 Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12821.
×

Introduction

SETH GUIKEMA

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland


PATRICK O’MARA

STV, Incorporated

New York, New York


America’s infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, mass transit, fresh water supply, wastewater treatment, telecommunications, energy, dams, and schools to name just some of its components, is often taken for granted and overlooked until something goes wrong. As we have learned in the recent past, the importance of these “invisible systems” becomes immediately apparent when they are not working. Natural and man-made disasters in the last decade have highlighted the vulnerability of our nation’s interdependent infrastructure systems.

  • Power outages darkened the entire northeastern region in 2003.

  • Communication lines have often been disrupted preventing e-mail, cell phone, and telephone transmissions.

  • An interstate highway bridge, the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, collapsed and disrupted traffic patterns and limited access.

  • In New York City, steam pipes exploded when an aging power supply system failed, disrupting transportation and energy distribution.

  • In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused levees to collapse in New Orleans and flooded entire neighborhoods and communities in the city and along the Gulf Coast.

The interconnectedness of infrastructure systems increases their susceptibility to failures and compounds recovery efforts. For example, an earthquake may

Suggested Citation:"Introduction--Seth Guikema and Patrick O'Mara." National Research Council. 2010. Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2009 Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12821.
×

damage buildings, bridges, and roadways, which may hamper emergency access to fires caused by ruptured gas lines. In addition, these fires cannot be extinguished if the transmission lines that provide power to the local water pumping station are down.

The presentations in this technical session will focus on research efforts to improve the long-term resiliency and sustainability of critical infrastructure systems, which we so often take for granted. This research includes investigating ways to develop systems that can withstand natural disasters and/or return to full operation soon after a catastrophe occurs. Similarly, techniques, such as lifecycle assessments, are being studied to create a more sustainable infrastructure by reducing energy requirements, using recycled materials, and/or making better decisions.

In the first presentation, Kristina Swallow presents an overview of the state of our nation’s infrastructure as outlined in the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card, highlights possible causes of infrastructure deterioration, and proposes possible solutions. The second speaker, Stephanie Chang, focuses on research to assess the vulnerability of urban infrastructure systems in areas susceptible to natural disasters with the goal of maximizing preparations and reallocating resources to make recovery and repair operations more efficient. Arpad Horvath, the final speaker, focuses on environmental life-cycle assessment modeling of infrastructure systems and the implications, for the environment and energy use, of using different designs and materials.

Suggested Citation:"Introduction--Seth Guikema and Patrick O'Mara." National Research Council. 2010. Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2009 Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12821.
×
Page 117
Suggested Citation:"Introduction--Seth Guikema and Patrick O'Mara." National Research Council. 2010. Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2009 Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12821.
×
Page 118
Next: America's Infrastructure Report Card: Causes, Costs, and Solutions--Kristina L. Swallow »
Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2009 Symposium Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $55.00 Buy Ebook | $43.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

In 1995, the National Academy of Engineering initiated the Frontiers of Engineering Program, which brings together about 100 young engineering leaders at annual symposia to learn about cutting-edge research and technical work in a variety of engineering fields. The 2009 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium was held at The National Academies' Arnold O. and Mabel Beckman Center on September 10-12. Speakers were asked to prepare extended summaries of their presentations, which are reprinted in this volume. The intent of this book is to convey the excitement of this unique meeting and to highlight cutting-edge developments in engineering research and technical work.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!