Lamine Mili , professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently chaired a two-day workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Virginia Tech in the National Capital Region.
Urken discusses social and community resilience

About 60 people attended the NSF-VT RESIN workshop

Lamine Mili chairs NSF-VT Resilient and Sustainable Critical Infrastructures (RESIN) workshop. The first and the second RESIN were held Alexandria, Virginia on December 7-8, 2009 and Tuscon, Arizona on January 13-15, 2011, respectively.

The first workshop brought together about 60 people, including three principal investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs from each of eight NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructures (RESIN) funded projects, as well as program directors and representatives from academia, NSF, and industry to discuss theories and methods aimed at enhancing the resiliency and sustainability of interdependent critical infrastructures.

"Critical infrastructures are complex, large-scale, networked systems with increasing interdependencies strengthening their grip as network-centric computing becomes more pervasive ," said Mili. "Such strong reliance of critical infrastructures on each other could turn a local disturbance in one of them into a large-scale failure with a catastrophic impact on the whole society.

"The risk of such a disastrous domino effect is growing in the United States because of the current trend to operate critical infrastructure systems closer to their stability or capacity limits, jeopardizing their integrity by a growing risk of extreme natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornados, large-scale fire, flooding, and sea-level rise," said Mili. "Consequently, providing these infrastructures with some degree of robustness, resiliency, and sustainability is of paramount importance."

Continuing research and sharing knowledge in this area are critical, Mili said. The NSF-VT RESIN workshop provided an opportunity for the PIs from universities across the country, including Mili, to discuss their research activities. It also served as a forum for discussing the creation of new engineering standards for resilience and sustainability, evaluating the scope of the current NSF EFRI-RESIN funded projects, and identifying gaps and future research needs not currently covered by such funding.

Those attending the workshop also participated in developing common definitions of social, economic, and engineering resilience and sustainability; laying the foundation for a new theory of risk management of industrial systems that integrates resiliency and sustainability indicators; developing an integrated perspective on sustainable critical infrastructures; addressing the education of critical infrastructure planners and managers, and setting up criteria for prioritizing future research needs.

Members of the steering committee, who worked with Mili to organize the workshop, are: Sandeep Shukla, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Michael R. von Spakovsky, professor, Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech; Arnie Urken, professor, Political Science, Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey, and Ben F. Hobbs, Theodore M. & Kay W. Schad Professor in Environmental Management, Johns Hopkins University.