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SEMINAR- "Leveraging Uncertainty to Realize Sustainable Engineering Systems: Case Studies Across Three Industries", by Randolph E. Kirchain, Ph.D., Principal Research Scientist, Materials Systems Laboratory, Engineering Systems Division, M.I.T.

Education - Colloquium - WPI Only

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
10:00 AM-11:00 AM

Higgins Laboratories
HL 102

Making strategic technology decisions  whether they be about materials, processes, or architecture -
for today's complex products and systems is a challenging task. Technologies evolve; markets change;
supply chains shift. In such a context, evaluating the strategic characteristics of a technology such
as its economic and environmental performance is fraught with uncertainty. Unfortunately, still today,
many engineering and technical decision makers do not explicitly consider uncertainty in their decisions,
relying instead on intuition or conservative rules of thumb. Such approaches can be both economically
and environmentally costly. This talk will explore three distinct sustainability-related cases involving
light metals recycling, bio-fuels production, and environmentally conscious design of electronics. In
each of these cases, decision makers must confront significant sources of variability or uncertainty.
Application of modern optimization or simulation methods to these cases have identified solutions which
are both better in terms of environmental and economic performance. This presentation will describe the
basic approaches to embed consideration of uncertainty into these decision contexts, the contextual
characteristics which amplify the need for such approaches, and the important remaining research gaps
for such decisions.

Suggested Audiences: College

Phone: 508-831-5236

Last Modified: November 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM

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