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University of Illinois at Chicago

Department of Civil and Materials Engineering

Distinguished Seminar Announcement


April 27, 2018

Room 1047 ERF



Infrastructure Resilience: From Concept to Performance to Decisions


Dr. Sue McNeil

Professor and Chair,

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,

University of Delaware



Interest in infrastructure resilience is growing as extreme weather events threaten, damage and destroy our transportation infrastructure and states, regions and communities have to prepare for then recover from these events. The American Society of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) definition of resilience, the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events, captures the concept. Considerable attention has also been paid to measuring resilience in terms of robustness, rapidity, redundancy and resourcefulness that in turn are connected to the disaster cycle, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.  However, connecting these measures of resilience to decisions has received little attention beyond recognizing that hazard mitigation projects enhance robustness, and preparedness may shorten recovery.

Using the concept of resilience raises many questions. What does resilience mean for life cycle cost? Is resilience just another level of service, or performance measure? How does resilience recognize the number of users affected by a disruption?  Is resilience an appropriate metric for an objective function or is resilience part of multiatribute decision making? How does resilience relate to sustainability?  Is resilience the complement of vulnerability?

Drawing on a series of case studies that apply measures of resilience to specific investment scenarios, we illustrate the challenges experienced in interpreting the impacts of maintenance and inspection decisions and demonstrate how the asset management framework can connect these concepts.  The results show that different measures and indicators are applicable for different types of decisions.


Sue McNeil is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Policy and Administration at University of Delaware. She serves as the department chair and is also a Core faculty member in the Disaster Research Center at University of Delaware. She is a former Director of the Disaster Science and Management graduate program and the Disaster Research Center. From 2000 to 2005, she was Director of the Urban Transportation Center and a faculty member the College of Public Policy and Administration and the Civil and Materials Engineering Department at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her research and teaching interests focus on transportation infrastructure management.  Her most recent research includes the impact of natural hazards and climate change on physical infrastructure and asset management with particular emphasis on resilience.

Host: Dr. Jane Lin