Rethinking Infrastructure Systems Engineering




The RISE Group is a multi-institution and cross-disciplinary research collaboration aiming to lead a step change in infrastructure systems engineering 

The complexity of our infrastructure is growing, outpacing engineers' ability to understand and manage it. Existing systems engineering methodologies, processes and tools are relatively slow, often inflexible and designed for closed (isolated) systems, while modern infrastructure systems are highly interdependent and cyber-physical, relying on computing as well as more traditional engineering disciplines. In the RISE group, we are rethinking systems engineering for infrastructure interventions, using the opportunities of digital data and analytics to enable decision-makers to understand interdependencies within and between infrastructure projects.

The RISE group brings together experts in civil engineering, systems engineering, computer science and engineering design. Working with our industry collaborators, we see three leading challenges that need cross-disciplinary solutions:

Design cases

  • Connecting Models: How can we bring engineering disciplines together to combine data- and knowledge-driven models? How do we deal with semantic diversity? How do we link different kinds of models (e.g. BIM, network models and comodelling)? How do we work across different modelling scales?
  • Supporting Decisions: How can we convert the volume and heterogeneity of digital data within projects into a resource for systems analyses that are made available at the moment of decision-making within the project, rather than afterward? How can we improve the ability of engineers to understand the consequences of their design decisions?
  • Managing Uncertainty: How do we enable engineers to manage uncertainty and trace issues through systems? What techniques are needed to allow us to compare model outputs with empirical data to visualise systemic consequences? How do we quantify uncertainty and risk and take advantage of new forms of sensitivity analyses?

Members of the RISE group include:

  • At Imperial College: Jennifer Whyte, Marco Aurisicchio, Panagiotis AngeloudisNilay Shah and David Birch are experts in infrastructure systems modelling, systems engineering and visualization of systems, including design decision-making and the use of new forms of sensitivity analyses.
  • At Sheffield University: Daniel CocaMartin Mayfield and Giuliano Punzo are experts in infrastructure design, control and systems engineering, using mathematical approaches including graph theory. 
  • At Newcastle University:  John Fitzgerald and Ken Pierce are experts in linking semantically heterogeneous models to co-simulate and analyse systemic properties, including the exploration of cyber-physical design spaces.

We are working to develop a collaborative research programme in which we bring our areas of expertise together to start addressing the major challenges described above, working with design cases that range from water infrastructure maintenance, Newcastle Urban Sciences Building to Tideway and HS2.

The team intends to publish a joint whitepaper to articulate this research agenda.

If you are interested in joining the consortium please email for further details.