Imperial College London

A hitchhikers guide to complexity: the case of engineering projects


Christos Ellinas

Christos Ellinas

A hitchhikers guide to complexity: the case of engineering projects

On Monday 23rd April 2018 the Centre for Systems Engineering & Innovation hosted Assistant Dr. Christos Ellinas (EngD, Meng). University of Bristol for our seminar series.



Modern society heavily relies on strongly connected socio-technical systems. The delivery of these projects heavily relies on project-based, operations; their interdependent nature making them similarly complex. However, traditional tools responsible for mitigating the risk associated with projects trivialises the effect of these interconnections. How do we bridge this gap? This seminal will introduce a data-driven, network-oriented framework for understanding the implications of non-trivial interconnectivity within engineering projects. At the activity level, we will illustrate the increased vulnerability of projects to sustain large-scale failures, with modest disruptions sufficing for their emergence. As a result, and in contrast to the project management literature, we show that extraordinary conditions are not necessary for large-scale project failures to occur. We will subsequently explore the link between particular project characteristics and vulnerability to these large-scale failures. At the resource level, we will illustrate the evolution of team collaboration and characterise the evident rise and fall of team work. We will conclude with current work, highlighting opportunities for future work, collaboration and engagement with the wider academic / industrial community.

Speaker biography:
Dr. Christos Ellinas (EngD, MEng) is an EPSRC Research Fellow at the University of Bristol (UK), and a Visiting Professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology (USA). Initially trained as a Civil Engineer (University of Bath, UK), Christos recently completed an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Systems Engineering (University of Bristol, UK / University of Bath, UK) working on the application of network science to risk-related challenges. His work draws from the theoretical study of complex systems to tackle real-world challenges in a variety of domains, including (financial) systemic risk, (project) complexity evaluation and team performance. His research has been featured in top-tier academic conferences, journals and industry-focused guides, including the Institute of Risk Management’s ‘Extended Enterprise: Managing risk in complex 21st century organisations’. Christos was the finalist for the ‘Research Writer of the Year 2013’ and the ‘Fraser-Nash Best Paper Award 2014’. He was recently awarded the Actuarial Foundation’s ‘2015 ERM Research Excellence Award’ for his contribution in the body of Enterprise Risk Management knowledge.


Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Contact details

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