Two BiSSL students get papers accepted to 2020’s IDETC-CIE conference!
April 13, 2020
Two BiSSL students, PhD student Abheek Chatterjee and MS almuni Tirth Dave, have had their “International Design Engineering Technical Conference & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference” (IDETC-CIE) papers accepted to the 2020 conference, to be held in St. Louis, MO August 16-19, 2020.
Abheek’s paper was accepted to the CIE sub-conference on Systems Engineering Information Knowledge Management (SEIKM):
Chatterjee, A., Malak, R., & Layton, A. (2020). Exploring a Bio-Inspired System of Systems Resilience vs. Affordability Tradespace. ASME 2020 Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, St. Louis, MO.
Tirth’s paper was accepted to the IDETC sub-conference on Design Theory and Methodology (DTM):
Dave, T., & Layton, A. (2020). Extending the Use of Bio-Inspiration for Water Distribution Networks to Urban Settings. ASME 2020 International Design Engineering Technical Conference, St. Louis, MO.
Texas A&M Engineering: SoundBytes Podcast Episode “Engineer This!: Taking inspiration from food webs to power grids” (Featuring Dr. Astrid Layton)
March 10, 2020
On this episode of Engineer This!” the SoundBytes team asks Dr. Astrid Layton about one of her research projects looking at the design of power grids using inspiration from nature. You can find a full transcript of the episode here.
Nature and industry may have more in common than we think. Dr. Astrid Layton, assistant professor in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, is taking concepts from food webs and applying them to power grids to find ways to help the systems run with more resilience.
Texas A&M Engineering: SoundBytes Podcast Episode “Ask an Engineer: What’s wrong with recycling?” (Featuring Dr. Astrid Layton)
March 3, 2020
On this episode (Season 1 Episode 28) of “Ask an Engineer,” the SoundBytes team asks Dr. Astrid Layton about the challenges facing recycling. You can find a full transcript of the episode here.
Texas A&M Regional Engineering Conference, hosted by the Student Engineers’ Council
February 20, 2020
The final presentations of the 2020 Texas A&M Regional Engineering Conference (TREC) were a huge success! The student teams presented innovative bio-inspired designs that could have a real impact on hurricane prone areas. A lot of the students had first hand experience with the problems they were looking to solve.
First prize went to the INSPIDERED team from SWE! They created a spider silk glass cover to protect from and prevent shattered glass from falling into homes and the environment – protecting clean up crews from glass shards. Congratulations!
February 1, 2020
I’m excited to help kick-off the Texas A&M Regional Engineering Conference (TREC) this Saturday with a keynote speech! TREC co-chairs Laura Orellana and Keeton Bailey have done an excellent job creating an impactful problem statement for the interdisciplinary freshmen teams to work on for the next three weeks.
TREC is an event hosted annually by the Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) at Texas A&M Engineering to foster professionalism and interdisciplinary collaboration among freshmen by developing a solution to a sustainability-related problem and presenting their product 3 weeks later.
It’s not too late to register! http://trec.tamu.edu
18th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER 2020)
January 29, 2020
BiSSL is looking forward to representing our bio-inspired systems of systems (SoS) design work at this year’s 18th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research in Redondo Beach, CA. The conference this year is focused on “Recent Trends and Advances in Model-based Systems” and will be going on from March 19-21, 2020. PhD student Abheek Chatterjee is first author on a paper with our collaborator Dr. Richard Malak titled: “A Bio-inspired Framework for Analyzing and Predicting the Trade-off between System of Systems Attributes.” We hope to see you all there!
Journal of Cleaner Production Publication
January 7, 2020
Congratulations to BiSSL alumni Tirth Dave (MS graduate December 2019) on the publication of his paper in the Journal of Cleaner Production! “Designing ecologically-inspired robustness into a water distribution network” covers Tirth’s work on bio-inspired network design coupled with modeling of a water distribution network, showing that we can draw inspiration from nature to improve the resilience and reduce freshwater use in industrial resource networks.
ABSTRACT: Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs), network of industries that collaborate by utilizing each other’s byproducts and wastes, are highly desirable for both the industries themselves, their environment, and governments due to their economic, environmental, and social advantages. Previous work has shown that EIPs are not as successful as they could be in terms of mimicking the behavior of biological ecosystems, highlighting that more work needs to be done for EIPs to truly mimic their biological-counterparts. The Kalundborg EIP, located in Kalundborg, Denmark, is a well documented example of an EIP with long-term success. Using the water network within the Kalundborg EIP as a case study, two bio-inspired networks are selected from an optimization based on the ecosystem metric robustness. The bio-inspired solutions are compared with a traditionally cost-minimized solution to understand what bio-inspired design can offer when a network is disturbed. Disturbances such as connection breakages and industry shutdowns are tested, showing that the bio-inspired designs require minimal recovery costs – in stark contrast to the traditional network solution. The results show that the bio-inspired designs reduce the network’s dependence on a scarce import (freshwater) and have higher overall network resilience in the event of disturbances. The three network solutions are discussed from a ecological perspective, explaining differences from the standpoint of ecosystem characteristics. The analysis highlights the benefits of using ecology to understand the nature of and improve the design of industrial networks.
Abstract for JCP (2020) “Designing ecologically-inspired robustness into a water distribution network” Dave, T. and Layton, A.
PLOS ONE Publication
December 31, 2019
We can finally share this open access PLOS ONE publication “A quantitative engineering study of ecosystem robustness using thermodynamic power cycles as case studies” written with MS BiSSL alumni Varuneswara Panyam (TAMU graduate December 2019). Understanding the characteristics of biological systems from an engineering perspective is an important part of bio-inspired engineering design!
ABSTRACT: Human networks and engineered systems are traditionally designed to maximize efficiency. Ecosystems on the other hand, achieve long-term robustness and sustainability by maintaining a unique balance between pathway efficiency and redundancy, measured in terms of the number of flow pathways available for a given unit of flow at any node in the network. Translating this flow-based ecosystem robustness into an engineering context supports the creation of new robust and sustainable design guidelines for engineered systems. Thermodynamic cycles provide good examples of human systems where simple and clearly defined modifications can be made to increase efficiency. Twenty-three variations on the Brayton and Rankine cycles are used to understand the relationship between design decisions that maximize a system’s efficient use of energy (measured by thermodynamic first law efficiency) and ecological measures of robustness and structural efficiency. The results reveal that thermodynamic efficiency and ecological pathway efficiency do not always correlate and that while on average modifications to increase energy efficiency reduce the robustness of the system, the engineering understanding of ecological network design presented here can enable decisions that are able to increase both energy efficiency and robustness.
Abstract for PLOS ONE (2019) “A quantitative engineering study of ecosystem robustness using thermodynamic power cycles as case studies” Panyam, V. and Layton, A.
27th CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference
December 18, 2019
Two BiSSL students, MS student Colton Brehm and PhD student Abheek Chatterjee, have had full papers accepted to 2020’s CIRP LCE conference! The 2020 conference focuses on “the role that engineering must play in the achievement of the sustainable future that people wish.” The conference this year is hosted by Grenoble INP – Institut d’Ingénierie Univ. Grenoble Alpes and will be held in Grenoble, France May 13-15, 2020.
- Abheek Chatterjee, Colton Brehm, and Astrid Layton (2020) “Mimicking the nested structures of ecosystems in the design of industrial water networks.”
- Abheek Chatterjee and Astrid Layton (2020) “Bio-inspired Design for Sustainable and Resilient Supply Chains.”
J. Mike Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Seminar
November 13, 2019
Honored to have been invited to give our department’s graduate seminar later today, I’m looking forward to it! Feel free to stop by if you’re around, I’ll be talking about my research regarding “Using biological inspiration to improve the design of complex human-engineered networks.”
Brief description: Biological ecosystems have been through millions of years of R&D, producing complex networks of interacting species that are able to support individual needs while maintaining system-level functions. In this talk Dr. Layton will show that these networks offer a relatively untapped source of design inspiration for improving the sustainability and resilience of our human engineered networks. Quantitative descriptors and analysis techniques are adapted from ecology through close collaboration with ecologists, enabling desirable ecosystem characteristics to be used as optimization guides for industrial resource networks (or eco-industrial parks, EIPs), water networks, supply chains, and power grids. Characteristics such as a high level of cycling of materials/energy within the system and a unique balance between redundant and efficient pathways are connected back to the achievement of traditional engineering goals such as cost and robustness.
J. Mike Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering Fellowships and Scholarships
November 7, 2019
So incredibly proud of all of our BiSSL research students! Last week’s fellowships and scholarships awards dinner for the J. Mike Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering was an honor to attend, to celebrate all of our department’s diverse and accomplished students!
- Tirth Dave was awarded a Graduate Student Fellowship
- Abheek Chatterjee was awarded a Emil Buehler Aerodynamic Analog Fellowship
- Colton Brehm was awarded a Graduate Excellence Fellowship
- Varun Panyam was awarded a Graduate Excellence Fellowship
- Shelby Warrington won the James J. Cain ’51 Award
- Kristina Viro won the J. Mike Walker ’66 Impact Award
October 10 & 11, 2019
MS students Tirth Dave and Varuneswara Panyam both successfully defended their theses!
Dave, T., (2019) “Designing Robust Water Distribution Systems using Ecology as an Inspiration” Mechanical Engineering M.S. Thesis, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
Panyam, V., (2019) “Bio-inspired design for robust power systems” Mechanical Engineering M.S. Thesis, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
TEXAS A&M CONFERENCE ON ENERGY
September 23-25, 2019
PhD student Hao Huang from the Power Systems group in Electrical Engineering will be presenting our Bio-Inspired Power Grid design work at the Fourth Annual Texas A&M Conference on Energy on September 23-25, 2019. The event is sponsored by the Texas A&M Energy Research Society in partnership with the Texas A&M Energy Institute. The presentations will include a poster presentation in the “Seed Grant Poster Session” on Monday 23td 3:30-4:30pm as well as an oral presentation in the “Energy-Efficiency, Economics, Sustainability, and Policies” session on Wednesday 25th from 11:05-11:20am.
Natural, Built, Virtual — the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s 21st Annual Research Symposium
September 16, 2019
Our collaborative and multidisciplinary research on by-product reuse and supporting a circular economy will be presented by Mechanical Engineering’s Dr. Astrid Layton and Architecture’s Dr. Ahmed Ali today at the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s 21st Annual Research Symposium “Natural, Built, Virtual” http://symposium.arch.tamu.edu/symposium/2019/
The presentation will cover the past year of our project ” Matrix Trays: Waste to Opportunities,” a seed grant project supported by Texas A&M’s President’s Excellence Fund. Read more about the outcome of the Mechanical Engineering Senior Design component of the project here: https://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2019/07/student-designed-smart-shades-reflect-a-more-sustainable-future.html
September 5-6, 2019
Resilience Rising: Research and Practice on Hurricane Harvey and Hazards of the Future Symposium
BiSSL PhD student Abheek Chatterjee will be presenting his resilient system design related research “Investigating Ecosystems’ Mimicry towards Design of Resilient Resource and Infrastructure Networks” this Friday, September 6th at the “Resilience Rising” symposium being hosted by TAMU College of Architecture.
The symposium will be held in Rudder Tower on the College Station campus. Come learn and network with fellow TAMU researchers and practitioners as they discuss recent projects on Hurricane Harvey and disaster resilience! The event is free but registration is limited.
The schedule will include:
- Panel Discussions
- Student Poster Presentation and Competition
- Pecha Kucha Style Quick Presentations
For questions contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 21, 2019 in Anaheim, CA
BiSSL graduate students Varuneswara Panyam and Abheek Chatterjee presented their first authored papers this week in Anaheim, CA. The papers for their talks “Bio-Inspired Human Network Design: Multi-Currency Robustness Metric Formulation Inspired By Ecological Network Analysis” and “Bio-inspired modeling approaches for human networks with link dissipation” can be found only through ASME IDETC2019.
BiSSL MS Student Jewel Williams Graduates!
MS student Jewel Williams graduated from Texas A&M University with her Masters of Science this August 2019 after successfully defending her thesis earlier this summer. Her thesis was titled “Opportunities of Applying System Analysis to the US Waste Management System: Bio-Inspired Solutions for a More Circular Economy”
Fall 2018/Spring 2019
Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Team for “Matrix Trays: Waste to Opportunities”
Matrix Trays: Waste to Opportunities, a seed grant project supported by Texas A&M’s President’s Excellence Fund, funded a Mechanical Engineering senior design/capstone team with myself and Dr. Ahmed Ali from the Architecture department as their advisors. Read more about the project here: “Student-designed smart shades reflect a more sustainable future”
“The project focused on taking a very common industry byproduct, a single-use matrix tray used for placing small electronic chips, and conceiving and prototyping a new product that would use the trays that removed them from the waste stream,” Layton said. “This goal aligns with those of a circular economy where the label ‘waste’ is removed by recognizing existing value. The students were given free rein in their concept generation, a freedom that resulted in an exciting final product with significant potential for future work.”
The Fall 2019 J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Excellence Fellowship
Congratulations to two of our BiSSL graduate research students, PhD student Abheek Chatterjee and Masters student Tirth Dave, for winning the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Excellence Fellowship for continuing students for the Fall 2019 semester! The highly competitive graduate scholarship awards graduate students doing excellent research, academic performance, and leadership in the department.
June 12, 2019
Jewel Williams successful presented her 1st authored paper, with BiSSL undergrad Shelby Warrington as 2nd author, at the ASME International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference held in Erie, PA.
Abstract: Circular economy aims to address limited resources through the continuous circulation of materials and energy. Recirculating low quality materials for reuse is a sustainability goal that is analogous to the primary function of Nature’s detritus species, a keystone for the proper functioning of ecosystems. Prior applications of ecosystem structure to human network design uncovered that even the most economically successful networks of industries demonstrate a lack of analogous detritus actors in the form of reuse and recycling. The recycling industry’s volatile nature, dependency on international factors, and financial difficulties prevent this strategy from becoming an efficient alternative. Creativity in design, inspired by ecosystems, is proposed here as a method to repurpose manufacturing byproducts that are otherwise seen as low quality waste materials. Realizing the reuse potential of these materials can create detrital-type feedback loops, an attribute that supports the characteristic resilience and efficiency of ecosystems. The work here analyzes existing methods of pursuing circular economy and investigates the potential benefits generated by purposefully adding connects that create detrital-feedback-loops at the consumer and producer levels.
(2019) Williams, J.; S. Warrington; A. Layton. Waste Reduction: A review of common options and alternatives. ASME International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference. Erie, PA.
May 20, 2019
Our interdisciplinary paper with Electrical Engineering, first authored by PhD BiSSL student Varuneswara Panyam, has been published in Applied Energy. The paper covers our proposed method for using ecosystems to guide the design of power grids towards a more biologically-inspired resilience.
The paper is available for free download here through July 16, 2019.
“Bio-inspired design for robust power grid networks”
by Varuneswara Panyam, Hao Huang, Katherine Davis, Astrid Layton
Technological advances have created a world where humans are highly dependent on an uninterrupted electric power supply, yet extreme weather events and deliberate attacks continue to disrupt power systems. Inherently robust ecological networks present a rich source of robust design guidelines for modern power grids. Analyses of ecosystem networks in literature suggest that this robustness is a consequence of a unique preference for redundant pathways over efficient ones. The structural similarity between these two system-types is exploited here through the application of ecological properties and analysis techniques to long-term power grid design. The level of biological similarity between these two system-types is quantitatively investigated and compared by computing ecological network metrics for a set of synthetic power systems and food webs. The comparison substantiates the use of the ecological robustness metric for optimizing the design of power grid networks. A bio-inspired optimization model is implemented, which restructures the synthetic power systems to mimic ecosystem robustness. The bio-inspired optimal networks are evaluated using N-1, N-2, and N-3 contingency analyses to assess system performance under the loss of 1, 2, and 3 components respectively. The bio-inspired grids all experienced significantly fewer violations in each loss scenario compared to traditional configurations, further supporting the application of the ecological robustness metric for power system robustness. The results provide insights into how ecological robustness can guide the design of power systems for improved infrastructural resilience to better survive disturbances.
May 10, 2019
BiSSL MS student Colton Brehm was a finalist for the Leo Award for best paper for his CIRP Life Cycle Engineering conference paper “Designing eco-industrial parks in a nested structure to mimic mutualistic ecological networks.”
The full paper is available here. Abstract:
Industrial Ecology uses ecological systems as a guide for improving the sustainability of complex industrial systems. Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) have gained support as a solution that seeks to simultaneously reduce environmental burdens and promote economic interests by exchanging materials and energy between industries to their mutual benefit. Recent studies have focused on drawing relations between food webs (FWs) and EIPs to improve the sustainability of the latter using ecological metrics, such as the level of cycling or average connections between actors. This study incorporates a new ecological metric, nestedness, into the discussion of sustainable design for EIPs. The association of nestedness with mutualistic ecological networks supports its application to EIP design. The work here improves the understanding of holistic network structure with the goal of improving future design decisions for EIPs with purposeful placement of material and energy flows.
April 15, 2019
Congratulations to BiSSL PhD student Varuneswara Panyam who became an Associate Fellow in the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) Academy for Future Faculty (AFF).
The Academy for Future Faculty (AFF) is a CIRTL@TAMU program. The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. The CIRTL mission is to enhance excellence in undergraduate education through the development of a national faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse learners as part of successful and varied professional careers.
AFF provides professional development for graduate students and post-docs in preparation for a career in higher education. AFF offers a two-semester program anchored by faculty mentorship and featuring weekly seminars and workshops. AFF events are free and open to everyone in the Texas A&M University academic community. Participants may choose to attend a few events or enough to complete requirements for the Academy for Future Faculty Fellow certificate. New fellows are recognized at our annual banquet in April.
April 8, 2019
Congratulations to BiSSL PhD students Varuneswara Panyam and Abheek Chatterjee for each of their first authored papers being accepted to the 2019 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences: 31st International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology (DTM) in the Biologically Inspired Design session. They will be presenting their papers in Anaheim, California August 18-21, 2019.
Varuneswara Panyam and Astrid Layton, “Bio-inspired modeling approaches for human networks with link dissipation”
Structural similarities between human networks and biological ecosystems have inspired biomimetic design of human networks. The approach requires the networks to be represented as graphs, where the actors are nodes and the connections between actors are links. A major oversight in the application of ecosystem-based modeling to human networks thus far has been in the selection of actors and links. Transfers between species in a biological ecosystem are direct, happening when the species are co-located. Human networks often require a physical aid to complete the transaction, such as power transmission lines, pipelines, or vehicles. These exchange methods experience dissipation, which is not captured in current applications of ecosystem-based human network modeling. Human networks modeled as ecosystems thus far simply categorize exchanges as links in the graph, effectively forcing dissipation during material/energy transport to be neglected. This dissipation can sometimes be high relative to the total energy/material exchanged and thus is a potentially large oversight. Three hypothetical power grids and three Italian urban water distribution networks are used to quantify the impact of modeling interaction aids — power lines and water pipelines — as actors (and thus including any dissipation) in an ecosystem model. Ecological structural and flow metrics previously applied to human networks are evaluated between the two modeling methods. The comparison shows that the impact of this overlooked aspect is potentially significant and warrants consideration.
Abheek Chatterjee and Astrid Layton, “Bio-Inspired Human Network Design: Multi-Currency Robustness Metric Formulation Inspired By Ecological Network Analysis”
The Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) metric ecological robustness quantifies the unique balance that biological food webs have between their pathway efficiency and redundancy, enabling them to maximize their robustness to system disturbances. This robustness is a potentially desirable quality for human systems to mimic. Modeling the interactions between actors in human networks as predator-prey type exchanges (of a medium or currency rather than caloric exchanges) enables an ENA analysis. ENA has been shown to be a useful tool in improving the design of human networks because it allows the characteristics of biological networks to be mimicked. The application of these metrics is, however, limited to networks with only one flow type. Human networks are composed of many different types of flow interactions and thus a biologically-inspired indicator of total system robustness must take into account all of these interactions. This work further develops the traditional ENA ecological robustness metric to accommodate various flows between actors in multi-currency human networks. Two novel methods for quantifying multi-currency flow network robustness are introduced. The mathematical derivation for these new metrics is presented. The water network for the Kalundborg Eco-Industrial Park (EIP) is used as a case study to determine benefits of the proposed robustness metrics. The results obtained using the single-currency robustness and the two multi-currency robustness metrics are compared using the case study. Based on the analysis of the results obtained at the system level, as well as at the sub-levels, both multi-currency metrics showed the ability to predict systems characteristics for the multi-currency Kalundborg EIP. While both of these are promising, more research regarding these metrics is needed in order to develop an elegant and comprehensive total system robustness metric.
April 7-9, 2019: Engineering Sustainability ’19 Conference “A Climate for Change”
Hosted by the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh and the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research at CMU, thanks to all for the insightful presentations throughout the conference.
April 4, 2019: 1st Annual President’s Excellence Fund Symposium at Texas A&M
Dr. Ahmed Ali and I are very proud of our Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Team (Zachary Merrill, Alexandra Stewart, Austin Grosklags, Joseph Bustillo, and Miguel Cervantes) and our graduate students Jewel Williams and Patricia Kio, who represented our T3 project “Matrix Trays: From Waste to Opportunities” during the Symposium poster session.
(From left to right: Joseph Bustillo, Jewel Williams, Zachary Merrill, Austin Grosklags, Patricia Kio, Alexandra Stewart, Miguel Cervantes)
March 22, 2019: TAMU Student Research Week
BiSSL Master’s student Tirth Dave just won 1st place out of all Engineering Graduate Student Presentations at Student Research Week at Texas A&M University! His presentation was titled: “Sustainable Water Networks Design: A Bio-inspired Approach”
Everyone here in the BiSSL group is so proud!
Student Research Week at Texas A&M is the largest, single-university student-run research symposium in the nation. Students get to show their research and have a chance to win up to $1,000 in award money and receive feedback from faculty and graduate student judges.
March 19, 2019: TAMU Student Research Week
Clare Boothe Luce scholar and J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering undergrad Shelby Warrington did an excellent job presenting her work at Student Research Week – Texas A&M University from our last 2 years working together on bio-inspired human system modeling!
Student Research Week at Texas A&M is the largest, single-university student-run research symposium in the nation. Students get to show their research and have a chance to win up to $1,000 in award money and receive feedback from faculty and graduate student judges.
The 2019 ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference Graduate Travel Award
Congratulations to BiSSL Masters student Jewel Williams for winning a Graduate Travel Award to attend the ASME conference for Manufacturing Science and Engineering (MSEC) in June at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Jewel will be presenting her first authored paper titled WASTE REDUCTION: A REVIEW OF COMMON OPTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES.
March 5, 2019: MSEC2019 Student Led Paper Accepted
Congratulations to BiSSL Masters student Jewel Williams and undergraduate Clare Boothe Luce scholar Shelby Warrington for the acceptance of their peer-reviewed conference paper titled WASTE REDUCTION: A REVIEW OF COMMON OPTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES. The ASME conference for Manufacturing Science and Engineering (MSEC) will be held in June at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.
Circular economy aims to address limited resources through the continuous circulation of materials and energy. Re-circulating low quality materials for reuse is a sustainability goal that is analogous to the primary function of Nature’s detritus species, a keystone for the proper functioning of ecosystems. Prior applications of ecosystem structure to human network design uncovered that even the most economically successful networks of industries demonstrate a lack of analogous detritus actors in the form of reuse and recycling. The recycling industry’s volatile nature, dependency on international factors, and financial difficulties prevent this strategy from becoming an efficient alternative. Creativity in design, inspired by ecosystems, is proposed here as a method to repurpose manufacturing byproducts that are otherwise seen as low quality waste materials. Realizing the reuse potential of these materials can create detrital-type feedback loops, an attribute that supports the characteristic resilience and efficiency of ecosystems. The work here analyzes existing methods of pursuing circular economy and investigates the potential benefits generated by purposefully adding connects that create detrital-feedback-loops at the consumer and producer levels.
The Spring 2019 J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Excellence Scholarship
Congratulations to two of our BiSSL graduate research students, PhD student Varuneswara Panyam and Masters student Colton Brehm, for winning the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Excellence Scholarship for the spring 2019 semester! The highly competitive graduate scholarship awards graduate students doing excellent research in the department.
CIRP Graduate Student Travel Grant Awards
Congratulations to three of our BiSSL graduate students, Varuneswara Panyam, Tirth Dave, and Colton Brehm, for being awarded travel grants to present their first author conference papers at the 26th CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference on Advancing Industrial Sustainability, at Purdue University May 2019.
BiSSL graduate students Jewel Williams was one of only 60 students selected to participate in this weekend’s 48 hour Aggies Invent for the Planet event! We’re all wishing her good luck!
Feb. 15-17, 2019
Invent for the Planet: The sun never sets on innovation.
For 48 hours, college students from 30 universities around the world will be joining Texas A&M University virtually as we tackle some of the most challenging issues facing the planet today. From water insecurity solutions to stopping the spread of disease and creating new technology for the classroom, this competition will test the limits of your creativity and resourcefulness. Will your idea help save lives and improve life on Earth? From Feb. 15–17, the sun won’t set on innovation.
Enjoying the presentations going on at IEEE TPEC2019 (Texas Power and Energy Conference), including work we did with Dr. Kate Davis and her group, being presented by my PhD student Varuneswara Panyam right now!
Congratulations to three of our BiSSL graduate students, Varuneswara Panyam, Tirth Dave, and Colton Brehm, for the acceptance of each of their conference papers to the 26th CIRP Life Cycle Engineering Conference on Advancing Industrial Sustainability, to be held at Purdue University May 2019.
Winners Announced: Matrix Tray Student Design Competition
We would like to thank everyone for your participation in the design competition! There were many innovative submissions that highlighted the excellent students here at A&M, across all disciplines. I’m happy to finally be able to announce the winners to you all! The jury is pleased to announce that three prizes, first, second, and a tie for third, as well as one honorable mention, have been awarded to the following submissions:
First prize of $1000 goes to:
- The team of Will McKinney and Brooks McKinney for their innovative modular aquaponics design
Second prize of $500 goes to:
- Britteny Martinez for her unique flexible and customizable ceiling tile design
Third prize of $200 is split between two designs:
- The team comprised of Aamer Arshad Kazi, Sitangshu Chatterjee, Het Pandit, Vivek Patel, and Omprakash Das for their design of an innovative optic fibre matrix containment unit
- Shelby Warrington for her customizable lamp shade featuring colored glass design
Honorable Mention goes to:
- The team of Sarojeet Deb and Shantanu Vyas with their green building façade design
The winners have been announced on the competition website: https://matrixtraydesign.wordpress.com/competition-results/
BiSSL Ph.D. student Varuneswara Panyam will be giving a seminar presentation for the Energy and Power group in A&M’s Electrical & Computer Engineering department on November 26th at 3pm in ETB 1003.
The presentation will cover preliminary research from his Ph.D. on redesigning the modern power grid for robustness following principles from Nature’s ecosystems. All are welcome!
Abstract: Extreme events continue to show that current power grid configurations, designed for efficiency, are vulnerable to disturbances. Naturally robust ecological networks present a potential source of robust design guidelines for modern power grids. Ecosystems balance pathway efficiency with redundancy to achieve robust network structure. Structural similarities between these two system-types support the application of ecological properties and analysis techniques to power grid design. In the talk, I will discuss the analogy between the two systems and an optimization model that our group has created to reconfigure a power grid to mimic ecosystems’ robust behavior.
Bio: Varuneswara Panyam is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Shiv Nadar University in 2016. His Ph.D. research is focused on bio-inspired design of power systems.
October 16, 2018, Austin, TX
Dr. Layton and BiSSL Master’s student Jewel Williams will help Austin Technology Incubator celebrate their launch as the new Circular Economy Incubator! Discussions with industry experts and entrepreneurs about real-world solutions, including leading Circular Economy companies: Wisetek, Remade, re:3D, and Leaf and Flour. Keynote to be given by BiSSL collaborator Dr. Ahmed Ali on Circular Design for the Built Environment.
The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) is the deep technology incubator of The University of Texas at Austin working with university and community entrepreneurs to commercialize their breakthrough innovations. For over 29 years, ATI has used a customized approach to support entrepreneurs addressing the world’s most pressing problems by connecting startups with the expertise, relationships, and funding sources they need to succeed in the marketplace.
Read more about the event and the companies presenting here…
BiSSL undergraduate student Shelby Warrington travels to the 2018 annual conference and expo for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), held in Pittsburgh, PA.
“We stand at a key moment in history. As sustainability challenges intensify and the window for action grows smaller every day, the need for leadership by higher education is greater than ever. With a theme of “Global Goals: Rising to the Challenge,” the 2018 AASHE Conference & Expo will examine the critical role of higher education in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by the world’s governments in September 2015, the 17 SDGs establish ambitious global targets to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.”
Dr. Layton, invited panelist “Network Science Approaches for Systems Engineering and Design” at ASME IDETC/CIE 2018 conference in Quebec City, Canada
Tuesday August 28th from 2-3pm the ASME CIE Systems Engineering and Information Knowledge Management (SEIKM) technical committee will host a panel on “Networks and Systems.” The panel will consist of Mr. Babak Heydari (Assistant Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology) speaking on Complex Socio-Technical Systems, Dr. Astrid Layton (Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University) speaking on Bio-Inspired Network Analysis Techniques, and Dr. Sara Behdad (Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY) speaking on Network Approaches for Sustainable Design and Manufacturing.
BiSSL Ph.D. student Varuneswara Panyam’s Poster is accepted to the 3rd Annual Texas A&M Conference on Energy: “Bio-Inspired Robust Power Grid Design”
The Texas A&M Energy Research Society (ERS), in partnership with the Texas A&M Energy Institute, is pleased to present the Third Annual Texas A&M Conference on Energy. Varun’s poster is to be presented during Poster Session 2 (3-4:30 pm) on Tuesday, September 25th, 2018. The poster covers preliminary work done by Ph.D. students Varuneswara Panyam and Bogdan Pinte and their advisors Dr. Kate Davis (Electrical Engineering) and Dr. Astrid Layton (Mechanical Engineering).
National Science Foundation’s summer school on Decision Making in Engineering Systems at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles
BiSSL Ph.D. student Varuneswara Panyam was accepted to and will attend the National Science Foundation’s summer school on Decision Making in Engineering Systems at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, June 23-29, 2018. The six-day summer school will introduce graduate students to the foundations of decision making in large systems and is hosted by Dr. Ali Abbas, Director of the Neely Center, at the University of Southern California.
Topics covered include
- Characterizing uncertainty in a systems engineering and design environment
- Building Preference – Value – Utility models for systems engineering and design
- Introducing the basic axioms of decision making, and methods to analyze flawed methods of decision making
- Research methodologies for decision making in systems engineering and design
- Future research directions
- Practical applications of decision making in systems engineering featuring guest speakers from industry and academia
Read more about the summer school here…
Assistant professors Astrid Layton (MEEN) and Kate Davis (ECE) are awarded the Texas A&M Energy Institute’s 4th Annual Energy Seed Grant, for their work on “Bio-Inspired Design of Complex Energy Systems to Achieve Robust, Efficient, and Sustainable Networks.”
Proposals were assessed based on the following criteria: (a) innovative and transformative potential of proposed research work in energy; (b) quality of interdisciplinary research group; (c) potential for developing a successful proposal for government funding; and (d) potential for securing external government funding.
Read more about the 4th annual Texas A&M Energy Institute’s Energy Seed Grant awardees here…
Paper accepted by the ASME IDETC/CIE 2018 conference in Quebec City, Canada
Congratulations to BiSSL students Varuneswara Panyam and Tirth Dave for their paper titled “Understanding Ecological Efficiency and Robustness for Network Design Using Thermodynamic Power Cycles” getting accepted into the International Design Engineering Technology Conferences, Design Theory and Methodology. The conference will be held in Quebec City, Canada from August 26-29, 2018.
The corresponding conference paper is: Panyam, V.; Dave, T.; A. Layton. “Understanding Ecological Efficiency and Robustness for Network Design Using Thermodynamic Power Cycles.” Quebec City, Canada, 2018. ASME 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conference.
Find more information on the conference here…
Journal of Industrial Ecology Best Paper Prizes: Journal article by Layton, Bras, and Weissburg awarded Second for the 2016 Graedel Prizes.
2016. Industrial ecosystems and food webs: An expansion and update of existing data for eco‐industrial parks and understanding the ecological food webs they wish to mimic. Journal of Industrial Ecology 20(1): 85–98., , and .
“Winners of the 2016 Graedel Prizes: The Journal of Industrial Ecology Best Paper Prizes” by Helge Brattebø, Reid Lifset
Texas A&M Mechanical Engineering News | Nov. 1, 2017
“Layton tests feasibility of modeling industry networks after nature” by: Jennifer Reiley
In nature, networks have evolved where animals and plants interact and use efficient methods to best utilize resources. Dr. Astrid Layton, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, is researching whether companies can apply a similar concept of how this natural network looks and behaves in an effort to create more sustainable networks of industries. … read more
Congratulations to BiSSL undergraduate researcher Shelby Warrington for winning a place in the Clare Boothe Luce Scholars program, one of eight students selected.
Eight female engineering students at Texas A&M University were recently accepted into the competitive Clare Boothe Luce Scholars program, which provides funding for undergraduate research to talented female engineering students.
The $250,000 grant was awarded to Texas A&M’s Women in Engineering program this year in recognition of the College of Engineering’s commitment to supporting women’s pursuits in academia and research. The program benefits undergraduate students by providing an opportunity to pursue research for three years, helping them prepare for future academic success in graduate school.
International Design Engineering Technical Conferences 2017
I will be presenting my work titled “Designing Sustainable Manufacturing Networks: The role of exclusive species in achieving ecosystem-type performance” at the IDETC2017 conference, under the 22nd Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference (DFMLC) division, on Monday, August 7th.
The corresponding conference paper is: Layton, A.; B. Bras; M. Weissburg. Designing Sustainable Manufacturing Networks: The role of exclusive species in achieving ecosystem-type performance. Cleveland, OH, 2017. ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conference.
ENGAGE summer program June 5, 2017
I am so excited to be working with the ENGAGE summer program at Texas A&M this week! Lots of future engineers. #ENGAGETAMU
“The ENGAGE Summer Camp is a six-day residential summer camp designed for students from underrepresented groups who are strong in science, technology, and mathematics. The camp gives students hands-on, memorable experiences while inspiring them to consider a career in engineering.
During the camp, students stay on campus in residence halls, engage in discussions with student and faculty panels, visit engineering laboratories and research centers and work on engineering projects. Current engineering students serve as camp counselors and are with camp participants throughout the entirety of the summer camp.”
Texas A&M’s ENGAGE instructors with the program’s guest of honor Johnita Jones. From Left to Right: David Staack (MEEN), Bruce Gooch (CSCE), Johnita Jones (ExxonMobil), Philip Ritchey (CSCE), and Astrid Layton (MEEN)