$746K GAANN grant awarded to USF Professors Y. Zhang, J. Mihelcic, and Q. Zhang

Drs. Jim Mihelcic, Yu Zhang, and Qiong Zhang from USF have been awarded a U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant, Redesigning Resilient Transportation and Water Critical Infrastructures.

This program will contribute to training the next generation of Ph.D. level civil engineers (with concentrations in transportation, water resources, and environment) to apply systems thinking to innovate solutions for local, regional, and national problems related to designing, operating and managing resilient, interdependent, and critical infrastructures.Our Nation’s infrastructure provides the economic and societal lifeline to move people and goods, while protecting the environment and supporting the essential supply chains and services that anchor the $19 trillion U.S. economy. The 2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, scored the U.S. infrastructure with an overall grade of D+ in 2017 (https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/). In addition, much of our Nation’s infrastructure was designed and constructed decades ago, prior to complex and dynamic changes in population, demographics, and climate (Zimmerman et al., 2008). All this has led many public and private entities to call for rethinking, and investment in, how we manage our Nation’s infrastructure going forward.

Students will be provided education and research training, and an apprenticeship, to redesign, and revitalize two of our Nation’s poorly graded critical and interdependent infrastructures: transportation and water. It is estimated that over the next decade $1.5 trillion and $632 billion in investment is needed for the transportation (ASCE 2017) and water (WWI 2018) sectors, respectively. Transportation and water are two of the critical infrastructures identified by the U.S. government to be so vital that their breakdown or destruction would have a debilitating effect on national security, economic development, public health, and safety (Presidential Policy Directive PPD-21). These two infrastructures demonstrate multiple dependencies and share characteristics that include dominant public ownership (versus energy and telecommunications that are dominated by private ownership). Also, state and local government spending (not federal) accounts for the majority of capital (62%) and operations and maintenance (88%) expenditures (CBO 2015).

The award will support six domestic Ph.D. students, each with an annual stipend of up to $34,000, health insurance, an institutional payment of $15,750 to cover tuition, fees, education and research supplies, as well as travel to and participation in a related professional meeting.

More information about this program is available at https://usfcee.wixsite.com/gaann. Ph.D. candidates interested in working on (1) resilience of interdependent transportation and stormwater systems, and (2) urban air mobility system design and operation management, should write to Professor Yu Zhang, who is leading these two areas.

Photo from https://www.glsv.com/glsv-selected-by-nasa-to-develop-urban-air-taxi-noise-simulation-capability/.
Reproduced from: https://aqrc.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk1671/files/inline-files/Susan_Gorton_NASA_RVLT_Research.pdf.