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ODU Engineering Student Wins Scholarship to Attend International Infrastructures Academy

Ersin Ancel, a Ph.D. student in engineering management and systems engineering at Old Dominion University, has been awarded a $4,500 scholarship that will allow him to be a participant in an international think tank on infrastructure security issues Sept. 21-25 in the Netherlands.

The Next Generation Infrastructures (NGInfra) Foundation headquartered in Delft, Netherlands, selected Ancel in a worldwide competition for scholarships to the NGInfra Academy, which will be held at a castle in the southern Dutch province of Limburg. The scholarship covers the registration fee as well as travel expenses.

Ancel has studied infrastructure transition and emerging infrastructures for the past two years with Adrian Gheorghe, ODU's Batten Endowed Chair in Systems Engineering. Infrastructures are the complex systems for transportation, energy, communications and other services that people depend upon daily.

Gheorghe, who nominated Ancel for the scholarship, said, "Participating in this exceptional learning opportunity for forward-thinking infrastructure design and management will bring the most current knowledge, tools and capabilities to both Ersin's research and other related research efforts at Old Dominion."

The academy will expose participants to the latest developments in infrastructure research, give practical tools for addressing many of the challenges facing the design of tomorrow's infrastructure systems, and allow interaction with talented researchers and young professionals from government ministries, regulatory agencies and international knowledge institutions.

The NGInfra Foundation was established in 2004 and is a consortium of educational institutions, market players and governmental bodies. Its goal is to improve the way vital infrastructures are planned, designed, operated and maintained.

Three subject areas will be the focus of the weeklong academy: serious gaming and simulation, to facilitate multi-actor decision making in infrastructure design and management; the model factory, exploring agent-based model usage to understand complexities of infrastructure systems design and operation; and energy markets, about how and why these markets work, or sometimes don't work.

Gheorghe pointed out that infrastructures are undergoing significant changes, and this is why the foundation focuses on emerging infrastructures. Information and communication technology has become important to all traditional infrastructures, rendering them more intelligent but more vulnerable at the same time, he explained.

Ancel, who received a master's degree in aerospace engineering from ODU in 2007, has research interests related to unmanned aerial vehicle flight integration to national airspace for future commercial and civil applications. He also has conducted research to show the interdependencies of today's critical infrastructures on space-based technologies. The risk and vulnerability of space assets and the impact of their losses, along with the investigation of cascading effects on various critical sectors are a part of this research.

Gheorghe was educated in Bucharest and London, and during his nearly 30 years of professional experience has become one of the world's leading risk engineers. Before accepting the position at ODU in 2006 he directed the Centre of Excellence on Risk and Safety Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He is vice president of the World Security Forum and honorary president of EURISC (European Institute for Risk and Security). He edits the journal Critical Infrastructures and wrote the book "Critical Infrastructures at Risk" (Springer 2006).

The ODU professor is among the pioneers in applying system of systems engineering to risk assessment and management. He and colleagues in Europe have developed computational models for these purposes, with a focus on risks from terrorism, cyber vandalism and natural disasters. At ODU he is working with the university's National Centers for System of Systems Engineering.

This article was posted on: August 31, 2009

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