Industrial Engineering, Center for National Preparedness, and SaM Distinguished Lecture: Robert J. Glass

Dr. Robert J Glass is the leader of the Complex Adaptive Systems of Systems (CASoS) Engineering Initiative at Sandia National Laboratories. Dr.Glass has degrees from Haverford College (BS, Ecology) and Cornell University (MS and PhD, Agricultural and Biological Engineering). He worked for many years in the general field of Subsurface Science where his discoveries of phenomena and creation of new modeling approaches influenced problems ranging from water and contaminant transport in fractured rock (e.g., Yucca Mountain, Nevada) to the remediation of aquifers contaminated with Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPL such as TEC and PCE).

Joining the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC, joint between Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories) in 2004, Dr Glass has grown a research team that focuses on the analysis and control of CASoS as embodied by many critical infrastructures and socio-economic-technical systems. Example applications include the design of robust community containment strategies for pandemic influenza, the role of international coordination in the management of large value payment systems (e.g., the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Fedwire system and the European Union’s TARGET system), and the enhancement of national and international energy surety in context of global carbon treaties.

Complex Adaptive Systems of Systems Engineering

Friday, December 4, 2:30 – 3:30 pm
1175 Benedum


Complex Adaptive Systems of Systems, or CASoS, are critically important as we look past the electromechanical systems that have been our traditional focus in engineering to the vastly more complex socio-economic-technical systems we must understand to design a secure future. CASoS encompass ecosystems, agro-ecosystems, cities, megacities, interdependent infrastructure, health care systems, educational systems, global financial and energy systems, and global supply networks, to name a few. As engineers, we are interested in influencing (designing, controlling, manipulating) a CASoS to solve a problem, exploit an opportunity, achieve a goal, and/or answer a question. By combining our understanding of the deep similarity of CASoS with a systems engineering focus on influencing them, we can systematize the theories, technologies, tools, and approaches to enable effective engineering efforts focused on the solution of CASoS problems. Influences fall into a set of clearly identified categories: Predict; Prevent or Cause; Prepare; Monitor; Recover or Change; and Control. For each category, there are three emergent issues: Decision, Decision Robustness, andEvolution towards Resilience. All of these have to do with Informing Policy.

CASoS Engineering is a new initiative at Sandia National Laboratories. I will describe its genesis through a series of illustrations that draw upon our work in networks, power grid blackouts and generalized congestive cascading, large value payment systems (such as Fedwire through which trillions of dollars flow each day), the design of community containment measures for pandemic influenza, national level chemical supply networks, and others.