An interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team with specialties in civil engineering, systems engineering, computer science and economics has been awarded a grant in the amount of $2.2 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), one of 12 announced by NSF as part of its $20 million investment in new fundamental research to transform infrastructure, from physical structures to responsive systems designed "to address our nation's critical need for more resilient infrastructure and enhanced services." It is part of the federal government's new "Smart Cities" initiative to help communities tackle local challenges and improve city services.

The Lehigh team is led by Paolo Bocchini, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and includes Alberto Lamadrid, assistant professor of economics, Richard Sause, professor of structural engineering and director of the ATLSS Engineering Research Center, Larry Snyder, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, and Brian Davison, associate professor of computer science and engineering. The grant, entitled Collaborative Research: Probabilistic Resilience Assessment of Interdependent Systems (PRAISys), will establish and demonstrate a comprehensive framework that combines models of individual infrastructure systems with models of their interdependencies for the assessment of interdependent infrastructure system resilience for extreme events. The project will also incorporate contributions from Diana Mitsova, Ph.D., associate professor of urban and regional planning at Florida Atlantic University.

The project is among the first supported via the NSF's new program known as Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes, or CRISP. These three- and four-year projects, each with funding up to $2.5 million, are part of NSF's multiyear initiative on risk and resilience.

"The goal of the project is to study, understand, and model the complex and highly uncertain interdependencies among the critical infrastructure systems and their recovery process after natural disasters," says Bocchini. "We aim at finding ways to mitigate the consequences of extreme events and rapidly restore the normal life of our communities in the time when they are most vulnerable and distressed.

He adds: "Lehigh University has led a truly interdisciplinary national network of research institutions, utility companies, and local government partners and we are proud to have gained this recognition of the work that we are doing is this field."