Year of selection 2010
Institution ETH Zurich
November 4, 2006: 15 million households were affected by the planned shutdown of a power line in northwestern Germany. A blackout throughout the European power grid was triggered when a high-voltage line across the Ems River was turned off to allow a cruise ship to pass, splitting the grid into three separate areas. With the ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of engineering systems come more threats, hazards and a growing risk of failure cascades.
Prof. Sansavini's project will develop innovative modeling and simulation techniques suitable for describing and quantifying the failure behavior of complex engineered systems as a whole, by focusing on their reliability and vulnerability. This will allow early detection not only of hidden failures and vulnerabilities, but also of critical emergent behavior, as well as design optimization and improved management and operation. Research will mainly focus on the following: how to ensure safe and efficient performance of emerging technologies; how to build a new paradigm and modeling framework to analyze complex systems and their interdependencies as a whole; how to integrate modern computer-based control systems into the overall system design and to ensure security against malicious cyber attacks; and how to validate highly sophisticated methods and tools following a system-of-systems approach.
From the telecommunication blackout in Rome to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, from Toyota’s safety issues to the north-eastern US blackout, reliability re-emerges as key.
Podcast of Prof Sansavini inaugural lecture here.
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