Designing Systems for Informed Resilience Engineering

The research program “Designing Systems for Informed Resilience Engineering” (DeSIRE) was awarded in response to the 4TU-call “High Tech for a Sustainable Future”. The aim of this program is to conduct excellent research of societal value by connecting advances in resilience engineering with adaptive principles of societal resilience. This ambitious program brings together 43 participants from 12 departments at all four universities of the 4TU. The program coordination for TU/e was done by Dr. Stella Kapodistria.

By 2050, 80% of the world population will live in urbanized areas. Cities and adjoining regions are incubators for innovation, yet their vital interconnected infrastructures are vulnerable to shocks. Engineering faces the need to design social-technical-environmental (STE) systems that are adaptive to changing trends, and enable agile reactions to shocks. Engineering needs “resilience lenses”. Resilience is the capacity of a system to sustain its functions and become better – through absorbing, adapting and self-organizing – under conditions of chronic stresses, abrupt shocks or disruptive innovations.

DeSIRE aims to conduct excellent research of societal value by connecting advances in resilience engineering (RE) with adaptive principles of economic and societal resilience. Within this program, 15 new tenure track positions at all four technical universities of 4TU will be created. One of them will be at our department of Mathematics and Computer Science. This ambitious research and capacity building program will support a new generation of engineers and practitioners – 100 Resilience Fellows – to be trained to design, build and integrate infrastructures that are fit for the challenges of the 21st century.  

Strategic activities of the DeSIRE program will address the 3 RE challenges and corresponding questions:

1. Resilience thinking and design: What constitutes resilience of complex adaptive social-technical-environmental (STE) systems? To what extent can resilient futures be engineered? How can we generalize from the resilient design of individual engineering projects and systems? Where are the limits of existing methods? What are the directions for future development and testing of new design methods and approaches?

2. Measuring resilience: How can state-of-the-art technologies and methods be used to model, measure, and monitor resilience of coupled STE systems? How should resilience measures from engineering, environmental and socio-technological domains be adapted and expanded to fit coupled STE systems? How does resilience propagate across scales over time in multi-level systems?

3. Resilience coordination and governance: How do different governance models and approaches (e.g. centralized vs. decentralized) impact resilience of STE systems? How do social, environmental and institutional factors suppress or amplify the vulnerability of engineering systems? What is the role of citizen science in shaping resilient futures of STE systems?

By consolidating in-depth engineering competences, advanced research methods and evolutionary approaches for decision making, this DeSIRE strives to accelerate the knowledge base, methods and societal impact of resilience engineering.