National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion Grant will Fund Mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary, Multi-​​institutional Ph.D. Program

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity has received a $3 mil­lion Inte­gra­tive Grad­uate Edu­ca­tion and Research Trainee­ship (IGERT) grant from the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion (NSF) to develop the first inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Ph.D. pro­gram in Intel­li­gent Diag­nos­tics for Aging Civil Infra­struc­ture Sys­tems (ID-​​ACI). Funded over five years, the project will include a part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­sity of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) to create a joint edu­ca­tion and research site to pro­duce diag­nostic engi­neers who can suc­cess­fully apply mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary skills to address tech­nical, soci­etal and polit­ical chal­lenges asso­ci­ated with aging infra­struc­ture and damage due to nat­ural and man-​​made disasters.

Our vision is a sus­tain­able, mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary degree pro­gram that takes advan­tage of the syn­ergy between com­puting, sensing tech­nology, domain spe­cific knowl­edge, eco­nomics and public policy,” says Sara Wadia-​​Fascetti, Pro­fessor of Civil Engi­neering and Asso­ciate Vice Provost for Fac­ulty Advance­ment and Prin­cipal Inves­ti­gator on the grant. “Grad­u­ates of this pro­gram will be Diag­nostic Engi­neers, pre­pared for careers as aca­d­e­mics, infra­struc­ture man­age­ment leaders, and entre­pre­neurial devel­opers of novel diag­nostic tech­nolo­gies and systems.”

Starting in Sep­tember 2008, the pro­gram will wel­come 7 new IGERT Fel­lows each year (6 recruited by North­eastern and 1 by UPRM). Stu­dents will hold IGERT Fel­low­ships for two years each before moving to funded research in the area of struc­tural health mon­i­toring and sensing of infra­struc­ture systems.

We are proud to be on the cut­ting edge of sci­ence and trans­la­tional research that is closely linked to industry needs and will help solve pressing soci­etal and eco­nom­ical issues,” said Joseph E. Aoun, Pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “The solu­tion to prob­lems asso­ci­ated with aging civil infra­struc­tures is a com­plex one that crosses sev­eral dis­ci­plines and relies on aca­d­emic and indus­trial col­lab­o­ra­tions on the national and global levels. We will pro­duce leading engi­neers whose exper­tise encom­passes an unpar­al­leled com­bi­na­tion of knowl­edge in Intel­li­gent Diag­nos­tics, man­age­ment and eco­nomics, and the ability to suc­cess­fully con­nect stakeholders.”

IGERT Fel­lows will be trained in the policy aspects of infra­struc­ture man­age­ment, as well as in the tech­no­log­ical chal­lenges involved in the health of phys­ical infra­struc­ture. The pro­gram expects to grad­uate between 25 and 30 doc­toral grad­u­ates who are U.S. Cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent res­i­dents through the five-​​year award. Addi­tional stu­dents will be recruited to the pro­gram through alter­nate funding.

Fel­lows will learn how to pro­vide advance detec­tion and diag­nos­tics methods; to under­stand eco­nomic and man­age­ment issues in civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering; to sys­tem­at­i­cally mon­itor the health of the nation’s civil infra­struc­ture; to pre­scribe cost-​​effective pro­ce­dures for the reme­di­a­tion of prob­lems to pre­vent cat­a­strophic col­lapse. Their course­work and activ­i­ties will inte­grate social, eco­nomic and polit­ical policy into tech­nology solu­tions. Cur­riculum and training will include research exper­i­ments at var­ious local, national and inter­na­tional testing sites.

The ID-​​ACI IGERT site will ben­efit from North­eastern University’s two NSF– and one NASA-​​funded research cen­ters, namely the Center for Sub­sur­face Sensing and Imaging (Cen­SISS), the Center for High Rate Man­u­fac­turing, and the NASA Mate­rials Research Center. University-​​based col­lab­o­ra­tors also include the Center for Urban and Regional Policy and the Law, Policy and Society Pro­gram and the Center for Dig­ital and Signal Pro­cessing. Fac­ulty of the five cen­ters, as well as of other areas at the uni­ver­sity con­tributed sig­nif­i­cantly to win­ning the ID-​​ACI IGERT grant, with a number of them serving as co-​​principal investigators.

Stu­dents who wish to apply for the doc­toral pro­gram should con­tact Pro­fessor Sara Wadia-​​Fascetti at swf@​neu.​edu or at 617–373-4248. For more infor­ma­tion on the Intel­li­gent Diag­nos­tics for Aging Civil Infra­struc­ture Sys­tems IGERT pro­gram, please con­tact Renata Nyul at 617–373-7424 or at r.​nyul@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.neu​.edu.