CEE, ZJU joint research center announced

11/4/2020 8:31:56 AM

Bill Spencer
Bill Spencer
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC) Grainger College of Engineering and Zhejiang University in Haining, China (ZJU) recently announced three new joint research center projects, which will focus on issues of human health, flexible manufacturing and sustainable development. UIUC Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Billie F. Spencer Jr. is co-lead of one of them – the Center for Infrastructure Resilience in Cities as Livable Environments (CIRCLE) – with ZJU professor Yan Xiao.

CIRCLE research focuses on the resilience of cities against natural and human-made disasters. Over 80 percent of the U.S. population and 60 percent of China’s population live in urban environments and rely on their infrastructure systems for essential needs like energy, water, food, waste management, transportation and telecommunications. Yet despite advances in engineering and design, cities remain vulnerable to extreme events such as floods, heat waves, droughts, earthquake, and terrorist attacks. To ensure cities provide livable environments where people and their livelihoods are protected, their infrastructure must be resilient against these types of events.

Researchers at CIRCLE have identified four thrust areas as critical to achieving their overarching goal of developing Infrastructure-Resilient Cities as Livable Environments: Energy, Water and Environment, Transportation, and Built Infrastructure. Each of these thrust areas encompasses unique, necessary components of modern cities, yet the areas are highly interdependent through physical, cyber, geographical and societal connections.

While researchers in each thrust area will have their own topical research efforts, they have adopted a holistic “Infrastructure Ecology” and “system of systems” approach to study and evaluate urban system stressors, risks, and overall resilience. Taking such a higher-level, system view of the connections between thrusts will allow for a much more comprehensive understanding of urban vulnerabilities. This will in turn enable better, more resilient infrastructure design and, ultimately, enhance the livability of cities.

“Critical to our approach is the focus on careful integration of the four thrust areas, leveraging physics-based and data-driven modeling efforts to create a cybermodel of the city-level system,” Spencer said. “This cybermodel will provide a holistic way to explicitly assess and mitigate vulnerabilities of complex interdependent urban infrastructure systems to major hazards and potential cascading disruptions. To demonstrate the efficacy of the CIRCLE approach, testbed studies for Chicago and Hangzhou are planned.”

Each thrust will have co-leads from UIUC and ZJU. The UIUC leads are Civil and Environmental Engineering professors Ximing Cai (Water and Environment) and Yangfeng Ouyang (Transportation), associate professor Ashlynn Stillwell (Energy) and assistant professor Jinhui Yan (Built Infrastructure). Additional collaborators include CEE professor Marcelo Garcia and assistant professor Lei Zhao, and Electrical and Computer Engineering assistant professor Zhizhen Zhao.

The ZJUI team members are Chushan Li, Tingju Zhu, Simon Hu, Cristoforo Demartino, Yueping Xu, Mark Butala and Binbin Li.

Information about the other new research centers (ZJU-UIUC Center for Pathogen Diagnostics; and Adaptive, Resilient Cyber-Physical Manufacturing Networks) is available at https://grainger.illinois.edu/news/37192. These three projects are another piece of the extensive partnership between UIUC and ZJU, designed to initiate and expand the relationship between faculty from both colleges, especially those within engineering disciplines.

For more about CIRCLE, visit their website at circle.cee.illinois.edu

To reach Billie F. Spencer Jr., email bfs@illinois.edu