Advancing a Research Network for Sustainable Urban Infrastructure

Image of city lights at night from orbit

Urban infrastructure - electricity, natural gas, water, wastewater, transportation, buildings, and more - is long-lasting. It strongly influences the people, environment, and communities in which they are embedded. This conference brings together diverse experts and practitioners to develop new approaches to urban sustainability. Research disciplines include infrastructure ecology, biologically inspired design, complex systems, and mega-scale computation. Practitioner approaches include corporate sustainability, community-based equity and justice, and technology platforms for economic transformation.

Workshop Program

Thursday August 15

8:00 AM – Breakfast and Registration

9:00 AM – Welcome, Introduction, and Overview
Prof. Valerie Thomas, Workshop Chair, Anderson-Interface Professor of Natural Systems, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Tech
Setting the stage – NSF intention leading to opportunity for sustainable research network.

9:15 AM – Knowledge Co-Production for Sustainable Urban Infrastructure.
Session Chair: Asst. Prof. Emily Grubert, Georgia Tech, Panel discussion followed by group discussion.
Framing the modes of engagement: academia, industry, NGOs. How do we make this work? This session will feature perspectives from policy, industry, researchers, and cross-sector organizations.
Panelists: Matt Cox (Greenlink Group), Jairo Garcia (Georgia Tech & Urban Climate Nexus), and David Pedrick (Southface Institute)

10:15 AM – Break

10:45 AM – Describe the Future (I) of Sustainable Urban Infrastructure.
Session Chair: Prof. Michael Lepech, Stanford University, Panel discussion followed by group comments.
What does the big picture look like? This session features practitioners creating new infrastructure, and researchers modeling future systems.
Panelists: Pascal Van Hentenryck (Georgia Tech), Daniel Studdard (Atlanta Regional Commission), and Audrey Leous (Central Atlanta Progress)

12:00 PM – Lunch

12:30 PM – Lunch Plenary – Urban Sustainability Research in Oakland, El Paso, and Syracuse.
Prof. Michael Lepech, Stanford University
Prof. Cliff Davidson, Syracuse University
Prof. Ivonne Santiago, University of Texas at El Paso
Prof. Miguel Velez Reyes, University of Texas at El Paso

1:30 PM – Making Connections, Providing Value for Sustainable Urban Systems
Session Chair: Prof. Ivonne Santiago, University of Texas at El Paso, Panel discussion followed by group discussion.
How are researchers and practitioners being effective and innovative in teaching and learning? What are some new approaches? This session features practitioners and faculty in innovative teaching and outreach programs.
Panelists: Na’taki Osborne-Jelks (Spelman College), Omar Asensio (Georgia Tech), Paulette Richards (artist), and Marc Weissburg (Georgia Tech)

2:45 PM – Break

3:15 PM – Afternoon Breakout Groups
If a larger collaborative project were funded, what could you do? Sketch projects and ideas involving which researchers, business, and policy makers at the urban scale. What future do we want to explore? 200-300 words.

4:15 PM – Report back from breakout groups
Session Chair: Prof. John C. Crittenden, Director, Brook Byers Instiute for Sustainable Systems, Georgia Tech: Each breakout group reports, followed by group discussion.

5:00 PM – Adjourn

6:00 PM – Dinner on your own in curated groups
 

Friday August 16
 

8:30 AM – Breakfast and Registration

9:00 AM – Keynote Introduction – Prof. John C. Crittenden‚Äč, Director, Brook Byers Instiute for Sustainable Systems, Georgia Tech
Keynote - Sustainable and Connected Infrastructure – Steve Foran, Senior Consultant, Jacobs Engineering

9:45 AM – Where Can We Have the Most Impact in Urban Infrastructure Systems?
Session Chair: Prof. Cliff Davidson, Syracuse University, Panel discussion followed by group comments.
How has research led to change? City, state and national policy? Transformative community leaders? New technology? Social networks? Business decisions? What can collaboration bring that we can’t do alone? This session will feature contrasting perspectives and experience.
Panelists: Maggie Kelley (Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance), Lauren Baldwin (Creosote Collaborative), and Ed Groark (Worldwatch Institute)

10:30 AM – Break

11:00 AM – Describe the Future (II) of Sustainable Urban Infrastructure
Session Chair: Prof. Miguel Velez Reyes, University of Texas at El Paso, Panel discussion followed by group comments.
Drawing on the previous day’s panels, what other approaches do we have? What futures might we explore? This session features practitioners managing change and researchers modeling change. Discussion will explore distinct approaches and opportunities for collaborations.
Panelists: Caroline Golin (Google), Rich Simmons (Georgia Tech), and Kincho Law (Stanford University) 

12:00 PM – Lunch

12:30 PM – Lunch Plenary – Vision for Smart Cities: Campus as Experimental Apparatus
Introduction by Prof. John C. Crittenden, Director, Brook Byers Instiute for Sustainable Systems, Georgia Tech
Prof. Dimitri Mavris, Dr. Michael Balchanos, and/or Dr. Scott Duncan – Video and Talk, Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory, Georgia Tech

1:30 PM – Afternoon Breakout Groups
Select favorite project ideas from day 1 and development them.

2:30 PM – Report Back from Breakout Groups – Favorite project ideas
Session Chair: Dr. Michael Chang, Georgia Tech: Each breakout group reports, followed by group discussion.

3:00 PM – What have we learned?
Session Chair: Prof. Valerie Thomas, Georgia Tech
What have we missed? What needs more work? Next steps.

3:30 PM – Adjourn