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Andlinger Center Events

Highlight Seminar Series: John Crittenden, Georgia Institute of Technology

Date: February 20, 2020

Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Location: Maeder Hall, 92 Olden Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540

Professor John Crittenden, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, will speak on “Gigatechnology: Developing Sustainable Urban Infrastructure to Solve Gigaton Problems” as part of the 2019/2020 Highlight Seminar Series. 

Gigaton problems are the most severe problems that challenges humanity, and they are measured at the “gigaton (billion tons)” scale. For example, the annual world energy consumption is around 12 billion tons of oil equivalent (Gtoe), 80% of that is from nonrenewable fossil fuels. The combustion of these fossil fuels emits approximately 29 billion tons (Gton) of CO2. In addition, more than 79 Gton of materials are used each year in the world economy, and only about 29% is renewable. Clearly, this is not sustainable in the long run. These gigaton problems call for gigaton solutions.

The current practice of designing, building, and operating infrastructure is rooted in the Eisenhower era and is a barrier to the future. Its failure to recognize the interdependencies between infrastructure components results in a sub-optimal system that is viable only because of the availability of cheap fossil fuels and non-renewable resources, and the externalization of costs, risks, and harms. For infrastructure to support societies moving forward, a reimagining and restructuring needs to occur that:

  • uncovers the interconnections and interdependencies among civil infrastructure systems and their interactions with social, financial, and natural systems;
  • works with industry, government, and non-governmental organizations to create an interoperable systems platform that is necessary to design, simulate, test, monitor, build, control, and protect massive, open, and complex infrastructure systems;
  • develops, tests, and implements the new laws, rules, standards, and best practices for designing, building, financing, operating, and decommissioning sustainable and resilient infrastructure across its total life cycle;
  • develops the pedagogy that teaches, trains, and empowers the workforce, organizations, and agencies that will transform infrastructure from isolated, simple, and vulnerable components into a connected, complex, and resilient system; and
  • recruits and retains a new generation work force that is as diverse as the communities in which they serve.

Professor John C. Crittenden is the director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He holds the Hightower Chair and is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Environmental Technologies. Crittenden received his bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and his master’s and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan. Crittenden was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2002 and the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2013. He is the co-holder of five patents and the primary author of the text book, Water Treatment: Principles and Design, now in its third edition. He is the author more than 333 articles in refereed journal articles, more than 100 book chapters, reports, and symposia and has more than 22,500 citations and a H index of 72.

Professor Crittenden’s current research focus is on sustainable urban infrastructure systems.  His colleagues and he are conducting research on alternative energy technologies, sustainable materials, advanced modeling of urban systems, sustainable engineering pedagogy, and urban form and policy. He also conducts research in various water treatment technologies (e.g., membrane technology, advanced oxidation processes, photocatalytic oxidation, adsorption, etc.) and energy harvesting technologies (photocatalytic water splitting and aqueous phase reforming of biomass).

The 2019/2020 Highlight Seminars Series will be held on Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in Maeder Hall at the Andlinger Center. Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon in the auditorium lobby of Maeder Hall.

Please see the 2019/2020 events calendar for a complete list. 

Gigatechnology: Developing Sustainable Urban Infrastructure to Solve Gigaton Problems

Professor John Crittenden, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, delves into how infrastructure should be reimagined to recognize interdependencies among systems – civil infrastructure, social, financial, and natural – to build holistic, sustainable, and supportive systems and solutions.