Engineering for Extreme Environments & Events

Modeling for the Future


Artist's rendering of lunar contour crafting

Humankind is facing the need to survive and prosper in ever more extreme environments due to causes, such as population expansion, climate change and conflict. The challenge we face is to develop and execute engineering research that is essential to provide tools and design principles that address these stressing environments and are scalable, extensible and affordable for application throughout the global environment. Key challenges this research faces include:

Can modeling tools predict, model, and enable prevention and management of highly unlikely, but also highly significant events and environments, without unacceptable false alarms? These tools must operate on a timeline from tactical response to supporting investment and policy choices.


Snapshot from a simulation of tsunami-induced currents in Ventura Harbor, CA. The reds indicate the areas of greatest current speeds, and the circular features are large rotational structures, or whirlpools.

How can these models address the need to identify potentially dangerous behaviors without compromising human rights and privacy needs? New methods are needed to identify threatening behaviors before they have even occurred.

What new construction and other methodologies will be needed to meet increasingly stressful engineering challenges? These technologies must address an ever-expanding set of environments and still protect these environments from further damage.

These challenges require development of fundamentally new technologies that can understand the differences between normal and threatening behavior. Modeling technology is needed that can address a wide range of highly unlikely or severe events. New construction methods for safe structures that are consistent with ever more stressful environmental constraints will require local and societal specific technologies.

Published on December 9th, 2016

Last updated on April 9th, 2020