Failures of civil infrastructure arise from challenging soil conditions, extreme weather, environmental changes, seismic triggering, and large hydraulic loading events. Other factors for failures include aging of infrastructure and poor characterization of infrastructure systems. Currently, losses from infrastructure distressed by earthquakes, hurricanes, expansive soil movements, and other hazard events can run billions of dollars annually
In some cases, human lives are lost due to the failure of the infrastructure. One example is the levee system's failure due to large Katrina flooding in New Orleans and recent Sandy hurricane destruction in the Northeastern states. Human life losses are also experienced from infrastructure damage caused by earthquakes and other hazard events. Most failures caused by natural hazard and problem soil conditions are attributed to poor design and construction practices, as well as the material types and their characterizations currently followed in the practice.
Several research advances were made in recent years that resulted in resilient and sustainable infrastructure, including:
- new and durable composite materials;
- sensors, equipment, and technologies that can provide better characterization of geo and construction materials;
- design models that incorporate reliability and constitutive behaviors of materials;
- innovative construction practices.
The following lists some of the center's specific strategic goals:
- Explore and develop novel and innovative materials as well as design methods/tools for resilient civil structures in challenging man-made and natural hazard environment.
- Develop new sensors and testing capabilities at the center to perform full scale to model testing of civil infrastructure at simulated hazard environment.
- Investigate effects of extreme weather changes on civil infrastructure in problematic soil conditions.
- Study sustainability issues including life cycle costs, energy reuse with geothermal foundations and societal benefits.
- Disseminate findings in reputed major conferences and high quality journal publications.