Office of the Science and Technology Adviser
Dr. Rajan Sen
Washington, DC
January 22, 2013

Andrew Reynolds:

Good morning ladies and gentleman and welcome to this Jefferson Science Fellows lecture. My name is Andrew Reynolds. I was asked this morning to stand in for Bill Colglazier -- Dr. Bill Colglazier, who is our Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, and he and his office of course are the shepherds and mentors of our wonderful Jefferson Program which now is in its ninth year I think and I’m looking to Lawrence Lin who is the master and commander of Jeffersons.

I’m very honored to have a chance to say hello to you, to introduce Rajan Sen and above all to give you a bit of background about Jeffersons and about this topic. I was previously with the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser for a decade and now I work in the Oceans Environment Science Bureau in the area of space and advanced technologies. So we all have a vested interest in our Jeffersons who have wonderful contributors to the Department of State and the Agency for International Development during the nine years that we’ve had the program. It is a unique program, a public-private partnership between State AID and our universities. We invite distinguished professors -- tenured professors of science and engineering to apply every year to spend a year with us here in Washington.

The National Academy of Sciences referee this process and we are always presented with a wonderful slate of finalists and usually take between 13 and 15 Jeffersons. There are 12 this year, nine working at the State Department and three at the Agency for International Development, and all told now we have -- I think it’s about 86 -- help me. 86 alumni and active Jeffersons? Thank you. 79. I’m counting ahead. That’s right, because we have at least 65, 68 universities represented and some have been so impressed with the investment that they’ve made with their professors, they’ve asked others to compete. So we’ve had two or three from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell, and others. University of Colorado has had several.

This is a particularly propitious time to speak about urban trends. You may know -- and if you do not, I recommend it to you highly -- that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, specifically the National Intelligence Counsel, just released in December its Global Trends 2030 report. And it’s an unclassified document. It was a consensus document developed with many experts around the world, and it speaks to the dark -- the crystal dark, if you will -- the crystal ball darkly of 2030 and what the world may look like and how the United States should be preparing for that world. And it speaks of many trends, but the megatrends, it notes, is the urbanization of the world which is now dominant. 55, 56 percent of the world is urbanized, only Africa less than 50 percent, and it is growing fast. Latin American -- 80 percent urban. United States the same.

And this density of population is important because the urban centers are truly the 21st century centers of wealth -- economic wealth, intellectual wealth, and power, and they must be protected. And some of these urban centers are indeed vulnerable -- greatly vulnerable to weather and climate change. We’re also working with the Atlantic Council to follow on with a specific report that will dive more deeply into this urban trend question. It’s particularly propitious because we look at Katrina, we looked more recently at Sandy, and Sandy is a particular wakeup call because apart from New Orleans and its infrastructure fragility, New York was caught by surprise. And when the storm went by, I would also point out that Newport News and Norfolk were also affected, and that is the area of our largest single naval base, which is important because the Department of Defense has also become a partner in this question of greater resilience in our infrastructure. I would also say that the American Society of Civil Engineers has traditionally published a report that says we were $3 trillion behind in our infrastructure in the United States. We’ve neglected it for 35, 40 years and it’s time to rebuild it. But Miami specifically has a report that says they need half a trillion dollars to ensure resiliency with respect to sea rise.

So I cannot think of a better Jefferson engineer rather than Science Fellow who can speak to this particular proposition. As you see in Dr. Sen’s biography, he’s a structural engineer at the University of South Florida and you might say in the middle of the issue with the peninsula under duress. I will not go into the particulars, but this man has been around the world working and we’re very, very happy that he’s joined us a Jefferson Fellow this year in the Bureau of International Organizations. So without further ado, I would like Dr. Sen to come up and we will have him speak for the time, perhaps up to 45 -- 11:45 and then invite our audience to ask you some questions if that’s all right. Dr. Rajan Sen. Thank you.


Rajan Sen:

Thank you for the generous introduction. I would like to thank everyone for coming. I didn’t expect such a large audience, but particularly my whole stuff is the Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Office of Global Systems. This covers U.S. policy in the -- with the United Nations and it’s a very diverse -- it has a very diverse and very broad portfolio. Especially thank those who are present for coming for this presentation.

Now, this presentation is about urban utopia, and utopia is of course an ideal. And this utopia is looking at what will happen to the world or to cities in the -- at around 2050. So that’s the space we are looking at. And what’s going to happen is, as Andy mentioned, the world is getting a lot more crowded, and it’s also becoming more vulnerable to dangers, both manmade as well as natural disasters. Now there are a number of civil engineering solutions which are available which can contain this danger, and this is what the focus of the presentation will be. The ideas we will present relate to new materials and design which can help solve this problem. It turns out that the U.N. habitat has recently produced a report which looked at the prosperity of cities and in that they mentioned parameters like infrastructure, quality of life, and environmental sustainability. So this presentation complements the U.N. study because it provides concrete examples.

Now, I’ve worked in the area of new materials and my experience is that whatever engineers do doesn’t really matter. In the end, its decision makers whom -- who are non-technical who call the shots. And in this context, I am very grateful for the opportunity to go -- give a presentation on -- which basically is a broad sweep on civil engineering. So it kind of helps inform non-technical people of advancements in civil engineering. One of the things which surprised me when I was making this presentation is some of the innovations took place 150 years ago and yet haven’t taken root. So this covers a spectrum of knowledge which some were from the last decade and others are from the 1850s.

So, you know, in England, where I worked for many years, they have a program called Desert Island Discs, and this is essentially -- you collect a great cause you want to play if you were put in an island by yourself. So this selection of materials and design reflect my own background and my own idiosyncrasies. It is not a comprehensive review on what’s available, but it’s more focused toward structural engineering because that’s where my background is.

Now, the first thing to look at -- the demographic changes which are going to occur are shown in this slide. If you look at it, the world population will increase by 2.3 billion. This in itself is unremarkable. Between 1987 and 2011, it increased by 2 billion, but what is remarkable is that the entire increase, 2.3 billion, will be accommodated in cities. This is what will make cities much more crowded and much more vulnerable because, you know, when you initially build a city, it’s in the prime location. When it expands, the parts which are not so desirable are built.

The other thing which is remarkable is this is not a growth which is driven by under 15. Historically all population increases have been because of a growth in the number of under 15 population. This is a growth driven by over 60. If you look at the increase, out of the 2.3 billion 1.2 billion is new to over 60. Now the same trends are present in the United States. In 2012, the population was 312 million and it’s projected to increase to 400 million. That’s an increase of 88 million. Out of the 88 million, 53 million will be over 60. So this tsunami -- the gray tsunami will -- that will sweep the world is going to affect cities because most of the over 60s plan to age in place. And as Andy mentioned, U.S. is already very urbanized. It’s 82 percent right now; expect it to be 89 percent by 2050.

So these are some of the issues that we’re going to look at. The first is air pollution. Air pollution has been in the news because in Beijing, citizens are under advice to stay indoors for four days because the air was unsafe. So this is something which is really important, and there are civil engineering solutions which can passively improve the air. I mean, you can improve air quality by putting a fee on motor vehicles as was done in London, but -- and the other cities, but you can also -- there are also passive systems which can automatically clean the air. So these are some of the things we look at.

A common occurrence in cities is -- you know, you have accidents, and that’s shown in the slide to the right on the top. And if you look at it, there are multiple beams. This probably has six beams. All of them have been damaged. What happened is a construction vehicle forgot to lower the boom. And this happens all the time, and as a result, all the beams are knocked out. When this happens, you have two choices and you have to decide very quickly. Do you replace or do you repair? In either case, you need solutions which are rapid because if you don’t, you’re going to get the traffic jam which you see in the left hand corner. That’s the -- a photograph from the infamous traffic jam in August in China where the traffic jam was 62 miles and lasted 12 days. Imagine you’re going to national airport --


-- and it takes 12 days. You won’t come back, you know? You -- by the time you come back, the event for which you were going is already done. The good thing about traffic jam if you notice is that the air quality is better [laughs] compared to the and that’s because it’s become a parking lot. Everyone has switched off their engines. So everything has a silver lining and in case of traffic jams, the silver lining is that because traffic doesn’t flow, your air quality improves.

And the last picture on the corner is a picture taking by a thermal imaging camera and it shows heat island. You know, in cities used to be farmland and creeks and other good things that have been paved over, and when it’s paved over, the heat -- radiant heat is absorbed. So it’s been calculated that the -- in a city of over a million, the temperature rises about -- between 1.8 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, but at night, it can rise by 22 degrees. It’s just phenomenal. So the heat could not only cause us distress -- and we’ve had incidents in places like Moscow where it was a lot of travels. Chicago, too, had a spell when it was extremely hot. So there has to be methods of controlling this heat, and again, there are solutions which we will go over briefly.

The other item is, of course, hazards. U.N. studies showed that 60 percent of cities 5 million or plus are at least exposed to one natural hazard and the three most common hazards are wind, flood, and drought. So we look at wind -- flood to the extent that we can drain the waters. When you look at storm surges like the one which New York experienced where you had like 12-foot waves, I don’t think there’s a simple engineering solution. You have to have some degree of hard solutions, which is like -- you know, they’ve built in London for example barriers -- and you need soft solutions like wetlands which can stop, but this is not something which can be done overnight. We visited Venice a couple of years ago and they’re building a barrier. And Venice continues to get flooded, but by 2016, that problem will be solved. The other item is of course you get incidents like burst water mains. The more dangerous is the gas lines. If you have a gas explosion, even if you are 600 feet away, you can be killed. So -- and that’s a real hazard because there -- the gas lines were laid out when there was -- there were fewer people. So this is the basis -- this is the outline for the talk. We are going to look at the issues we looked at, which is air pollution and air -- heat island, and we look at innovative new solutions to solve them. And the other would be design.

So that’s the bulk -- that’s the core of the presentation. In addition, we look at aging in place issues. But first we’ll -- a little bit of background on civil engineering. After 79 Jefferson Fellows -- there’s been only three civil engineers, and I guess I’m the only one who’s in structures. The previous structural engineer was actually in mechanics. So civil engineers -- you’ve all heard of Hippocratian oath or -- which is like “first, do no harm.” We have the Hammurabi Code. This was prominently displayed in my structures textbook -- the exact code. And this is not the code which encourages innovation and experimentation.

It’s a code which is basically an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, but the central message is safety, and safety is always important because when we design -- if you design your own house, it doesn’t matter what happens, but if you design for the -- a public space, you have an obligation to make it safe.

Now, if you think these measures are draconian, look at what happened in Italy last year. Last year, an Italian court sentenced seven engineers and Italian scientists to six years imprisonment for manslaughter. Their crime -- every year Italy has a conference which is like National Commission for Prevention and -- of Risks, and in that convention, these individuals were asked what their opinion was of the chances of an earthquake in this city, which was La Cinquina, which is -- seems to be close to Rome. Well, they said it had no -- there was no danger. Well, seven days later, there was a massive earthquake in which 300 people, including 65 children, were killed, so naturally it was their fault. They plan to appeal, but it turns out that the appeal will take six years. So this was a travesty of justice, but it -- what it tells you is that you have to keep your mouth shut. And this is a European country, a member of the G8. So this was particularly surprising that you have a Taliban brand of justice.

Now, the -- when you have new materials, there are many barriers. The first question, if you have a new system for example, you’ll be asked is, do you have data which shows that it last for 50 years? And the answer is usually no. The second question is is it going to be cheaper? And the answer is usually no because price is a functional scale, so if you don’t have the volume, it’s going to be less -- it’s going to be -- cost more. So if you have two strikes, the person who is making the decision, if he says go ahead, then his integrity will be in question. He might be in front of a congressional committee to explain why he chose this material which not only cost more and for which there was no reliable data.

This is where the state steps in, and the U.S. has been very proactive in this. Since the 1990s, you have legislation like ISTEA and the latest is MAP-21, which promote innovation. And this is why whenever you have a promising product, you have government policies actively encourage the adoption, which is really great. If, on the other hand, you have a product where you don’t have data and it costs less, then decision makers are sometimes persuaded, especially if you have a budget branch and you don’t have any money, then you waffle and you say that this is innovation, and then even if there’s a problem, the public will be more forgiving. So we’ve worked on new materials and systems and so we are -- have like a front seat to see how it was being adopted. So this is a story of how long it takes for new technologies to be adopted.

One of the common repairs which have to be carried out in cities is that when we design a bridge, it is designed for 75 years. So if it’s 2013, the loading was as in 1938. The world was a lot different in 1938, so if you’re going to build something in -- to 1938 standards, you will have to strain the nate [spelled phonetically] over its lifetime. And a method that has been used since ’67 is bonding steel plates. Now why are steel plates a good solution? Because you don’t want to reduce the headroom. You can increase the size of the beam, but then all the tracks will come and hit the -- knock the bridge down. So you need something which is strong and relatively thin so that, you know, you might shave a couple of inches, but that’s not going to, you know, destroy a transport system.

But the problem with this is that steel is very heavy, so you need to introduce a massive scaffolding system, and then when plates have moved on, you can see hydraulic jacks are supporting them because it takes a little while for the glue to cure. And then there are joints because you can’t lift a 50-feet piece of steel and put it in place. So there are joints and joints are places where corrosion takes place. Water always find a way, either through the deck -- even if you put waterproof lining, it’s going to go through the deck. Or you can have driving rain, which is going to force water, and then there’s corrosion. Now at USF, we actually did the first repair of -- using carbon for on steel.

However, the application I’m going to show is one by Professor Urs Meier at EMPA . EMPA is in Zurich. It’s the finest engineering institution in Switzerland and possibly in Europe. They have outstanding testing facilities. Now, this is entitled How Carbon Fiber Reinforced -- CFRP was Adapted for Repair. Now, Professor Urs Meier got the idea of using carbon in 1982. Advanced composites had been used since the 1970s, notably by the Japanese and the Germans. But Urs Meier settled on carbon fiber reinforced polymers and in his hand you’ll see a piece of carbon which is two inches wide and one-thirty second of an inch thick. This is very thin, but it’s stronger than steel.

So if you look at what it -- if you have to look at the left inset, you can see how a carbon fiber compares with a human hair. You’ll find that it’s much thinner. You know, that -- carbon fiber is like five microns, which is 5 millionths of a meter, and human hair is evidently more. So to work with it, you have to take multiple fibers and it creates] what is called a Roving. In this case, you see a roving which has 12,000 fibers. Once you have this material, you can process it. You can make it into clot [spelled phonetically], which is like one-dimensional, unidirectional, or you can make it bidirectional, or you can make it into sheets, or you can process it to make into plates as was done by Professor Meier.

So in 1985, when the research was progressing well, Professor Meier is very optimistic. He said if you look at this cartoon, there’s an older person who says -- who’s Mr. Traditional, and the younger person is Miss Futura. And the older person says with a sigh that 200 pounds of steel for one 60-foot force tension and the younger person says, “Wow, only 10 pounds of carbon to replace it.” So this is an inherent advantage. You don’t have joints and it’s very lightweight, so it can be installed rapidly. But if you read the comments, and these are slides which EMPA provided, CFRP is not known to the engineering community. If known, it’s absolutely not accepted.

So the chance to use it came by accident. Now there are 193 countries in the United Nations, and if you were to pick a country which would accidentally drill a pre-stressing tendon, chances of picking Switzerland would be low. You would expect, you know, them to be the -- you know, least likely, but it happened. They wanted to install traffic lights and when they did, they got to the main pre-stressing tendons. Now this in itself was not a catastrophe, because if you look at a bridge, there are multiple beams, so cutting a tendon is like a minor injury. But what happened was the engineer decided -- after four months, he decided to go ahead and use carbon.

And they got this chance to use carbon, and I specifically requested Professor Meier and he sent an email which says that the engineer who made the decision did not read the journal papers, but he had read about it in the newspaper, and he remembered. Now this is actually why we go to engineering school, so we don’t remember -- we remember that there’s an example of this which we saw somewhere else. That’s the entire, you know, five years of engineering school. That’s what we do. We have an index which says, yes, this is an example where you can find and then we go and read the example.

So this repair was carried out in six hours and later on, when they checked the repair 18 years later, it was found to be in absolutely perfect condition. So since the time -- if you look at the timeline you’ll find 1982 was when they were looking at the -- it was the idea. 1987, they had a show and tell in which full-scale test results were presented, and then, you know, there’s been a dramatic growth. It’s increased to, like, over -- nearly 160 tons, but when I looked at recent figures, it’s like 35,000 tons is the world use of carbon.

Now carbon is now used worldwide. I just picked this from, for example, in Quebec City because this is exactly the way you repair earthquake, and if you want to strain the structures to prevent earthquakes, you wrap the columns. And in this case, they are doing a wrap to prevent -- you know, to repair for corrosion. And if you look at some of the columns, some are black, which are carbon. The others are glass. 13 years later when they looked at this, they found that is -- was in perfect condition. And we actually extended to repairing underwater piles. In Tampa Bay, we have four bridges. The most famous is of course the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. So this is the Gandhi Bridge and if you look at the right picture, you can see that after the repairs, they look as good as new. So this was a piece on repairs because you will need materials which can be used for repairing structures rapidly and all the systems we just tried can be used to repair.

The -- for next item we are going to look at is air pollution. In 1967, researchers in Japan discovered that titanium dioxide had photocatalytic properties. Essentially what it means is that in the presence of sunlight, it could make pollutants harmless. So as -- in 1990 -- in the 1990s, they started experimenting with cement and they produced a special cement where they added a specially formulated titanium oxide. Now, if you look at concrete, concrete is made of cement and water -- those are the main ingredients -- and you have aggregates that which make up the filler -- both large and small aggregates. And what happens is that with titanium dioxide, in the presence of sunlight you can change nitric oxide and nitrous oxide -- nitrogen dioxide into harmless nitrates, also volatiles like benzene and formaldehyde. So this is a product which works on its own. The second advantage with this system is that it makes a surface hydrophilic, which means rainwater can wash it away. So you have a system which not only cleans the air, but creates structures in their pristine condition.

So it hasn’t been used as much in the U.S. Here are some examples. The first is -- some examples to examine -- urban canyon effect. When you have tall buildings, then what happens is if you have pollution that gets trapped because the air can’t circulate to remove it. So there was an experiment to see how effective it was. And then there are two examples. The one on the left is the Jubilee Church in Rome. It’s six miles from the city center. It uses marble as aggregate and it’s in the same pristine condition it was when it was built. On the right, there’s a tunnel where you used the self-cleaning concrete, and again, the air quality has improved. So again, this is a passive system. You don’t have to do anything. And it has been said that if you change all the sidewalk, the exterior surfaces, and the streets with this material 80 percent of the pollution would be removed. So improvements our air quality, health, and environment, because you get cleaner structures.

This is the last -- second last. You know, one of the problems in cities is drought, and a way of retaining all the rainwater is using pervious concrete. Pervious concrete has been around since 1850, but it hasn't been used much. We use it in Florida for parking lots, but in the rest of the country it's still new. Essentially what it is it's concrete where you don't put any sand. As a result you get a system of interconnected voids. And when you have this, when rainwater falls, it's based fully absorbed in place. You don't need to channel it through storm water systems, and then that causes problems to the ecology because, you know, the rainwater contains a lot of pollutants, especially in the first hour of rain. It has things like oil and, you know, animal residue, and pesticides, and fertilizers which all drain into rivers and streams and oceans, and this is -- this can prevent it.

On the left you see regular concrete; on the right you see the pervious concrete. Again, the benefits are that it actually replenishes the aquifer, and it controls storm water pollution, so this is again a passive system which can lead to improvement. So this is what builds resilience. Resilience is basically community by community; it's not top down. So what you do in your driveway is going to impact the entire performance of the city. And this is example of the use of self-cleaning and pervious concrete in Chicago and, you know, even the pieces which are made of steel or stainless steel -- and the other steel is weathering steel.

The final item was heat island effect. And again, these solutions like green roofs have been around and used in Germany since the 1860s, and Scandinavia since -- for four centuries. The advantage with green roofs is that it insulates the building so your heating and cooling bills are substantially lower. Also it holds down the storm rainwater so it again doesn't overload the storm water system.

The other solutions which have been used are, like, you know, painting the roof white. But the one which is more engineering based is the self-cleaning solution. The part which is shown on the left hand corner is a section of road in St. Louis which was opened to traffic last year. And this is made of self-cleaning concrete. And they're monitoring air quality. The results are not in. I spoke to the professor who's in charge. They expect to get results on whether the extent of the improvement in a year's time.

So this brings me to design. I think you're going to be more attracted to the picture on the right, so I'll start with that. This shows the inventor, John Hillman, standing under a bridge over which a fully loaded railway train is crossing. This is the Hammurabi left over. You know, we design something and, you know, the designer needs to be confident enough to stand under the structure when it's heavily loaded. Now this is an ingenious system which is designed. You know, concrete and steel are used, the predominant construction material. What he's done is he's made a new system. Remember when you mix -- make concrete, you add cement to water, so it's plastic to begin with. So he made a framework which is made of fiber reinforced polymers. And once he did that, then he could take the parts of concrete which worked, which is like in compression so it's like an arch, and put the steel in and put whatever you need to construct a bridge in place. So the result is that instead of weighing 10,000 pounds, the beam will weigh 2000 pounds. So it can carry six beams to a construction site and all you have to do is to pour the concrete, and you can build it in very short time. The box, itself, can be built in a couple of days. So this is an ingenious solution.

I heard a presentation by John Hillman last week, and he said the idea for the study came in five minutes, but it took 17 years to develop it. So that's probably a good thing to remember, so you can have good ideas, but to get it to the marketplace and make it succeed, it takes a lot longer.

This title is a bit of a stretch but that's what it's called; it's called bridge in a backpack. And what it is is it uses carbon cubes, which are lightweight, and you can put them probably in a big backpack. And when you go to a site you assemble them and then attach your decking and put it up with concrete. And the result is you get a very good -- a nice-looking structure and its built in very short time, which is really durable.

I -- you know, I wanted to include an example of an earthquake design which shows. You know, you have this horrendous earthquake in Haiti, but the buildings which were designed to the American building code survived and sustained no damage. Now if I took a picture of that, it will make no impression. But this is the Alaska -- trans Alaska pipeline. When it was going to be built, it was under the microscope. The EPA had just been opened and this was passing through from Arctic Circle, Prudhoe Bay, all the way to the port of Valdez, through various environmentally sensitive area. So the USGS did a terrific job. They predicted that this pipeline would be subjected to a magnitude eight on the Richter scale earthquake. And this would cause a pipeline to move by 20 feet horizontally and five feet vertically. Well this event took place more than 25 years later, in November 2002, and the design worked. There was some damage to the -- to the sliding beams but the pipeline remained intact. So this is an ingenious piece of creative design. It added $3 million, but it saved possibly billions of dollars in damage which would have taken place. So this kind of illustrates what good design can do. It's not only the, you know, the iPhone. In engineering, too, you get examples of, you know, creative design which is why people become engineers.

This is an example of how buildings sustain wind load. The defining wind in the U.S. was hurricane Andrew. Before that, you know, homes did not have to be engineered. But hurricane Andrew decimated the town of Homestead and people became serious after that, just as after Katrina people became more serious about levees. So this is a picture of a hurricane which hit -- hurricane Charley, which the eye of the hurricane passed through Port Charlotte Harbor. And you can see the building in the foreground, they all had metal roofs, and they were completely intact. There's a part on the right which is circled and you can see that, you know, the plywood is showing. And in the foreground there's a part which I haven't circled where you see the FEMA issued blue tops. So, you know, in this day and age actually there's no excuse for buildings not to withstand wind. You can engineer it, and retrofitting is not all that difficult.

This is the last example of design. It has to do with flooding. The SMART actually is acronym. It's Storm Water Management

and Road Tunnel. But if you just wrote SMART it wouldn't have the same impact. So this is a dual purpose tunnel which was built in Kuala Lampur, and it functions both as a tunnel carrying traffic, but if there's flooding there are channels which direct the water. And in case there is a major flood, the entire tunnel -- the entire tunnel operates like a drain. So this isain extraordinary piece of design. There are problems. You know, sediments are left behind. But there have been 44 events of flooding which has been controlled because of this design.

So I'm kind of racing because there's 10 minutes -- five minutes left. So this is the last issue, aging in place. And I mentioned is that although one in five is going to be over 60 in 2050 -- over 65. And 89 percent refer to design. Now this is something quite important. Out of the next hundred million households, 88 percent will be childless. This is some statistic which is worth remembering. The homes which we should buy are ones which are universal homes. Most homes are designed for young children, but children grow up and leave home. And, you know, if you have -- you need a home because if you have an ankle injury or a knee replacement or a hip replacement, you want to be able to move around freely inside the house. And there are some simple rules. This universal design concept was proposed by a professor at North Carolina in the 1980s. It has -- it needs a step-free entrance, wider hallways. Instead of 30 inches, they need to be 32 inches. There needs to be turning space. And again, the controls should be such that you don't need to be, you know, at the top of your form. Levers instead of knobs, and so on. Sensor controlled. If you look at showers, they don't have a step, but you have drains which can drain the water quickly.

However, having a home which makes you independent is not enough. You need communities which are walkable. If you have communities where you drive, then 85 percent of the cost associated with, you know, automobiles goes out of the city. That same money is used for increased housing and recreation, so in fact communities become more prosperous if they're more walkable. And this example is from Seattle where two communities are shown; one is one is the Saint Anne -- Queen Anne, and the other is Redmond. The one on the leff which is Queen Anne is much more walkable. It has mixed use. In other words, you have single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums, so you can live in the same neighborhood all your life. There are stores, like grocery stores, pharmacies, and also businesses, and of course a system of well-connected -- scenic and well-connected sidewalks so you can go about your business. It's been shown that if you have communities like this, they tend to be much more connected, and as a result, more resilient because when you are more connected, you tend to look after each other, and as a result, there is increased resilience.

This is the last slide relating to aging. There will be cosmetic changes to cities. You need signs which are well directed. Perhaps 23 seconds may not be enough, at least when people are crossing. You might need to wait a little more. And there needs to be audio as well because, you know, people's eyesight may not be what they were when they were young. There needs to be places where you can sit. And that also means that they have to be controlled. People are not going to venture out if they're going to be mugged. So there needs to be safe places to sit.

And the last one is the most critical, signs. You know, signs have to be improved. You cannot have confusing signs. This is a real problem. You know, as it is, your reactions are not so fast. You go in and it doesn't make any sense. Over here it shows there that you look at the sign. There's an arrow pointing right, and that's the part which you will be worrying about; where is it going? So this increases the likelihood of accident. So these are some simple measures which will be taken care of because you know, the great tsunami which is going to move is not passive; they're worldlier and they are going to be more demanding. Policies will be changed to accommodate them.

So in summary, you know, there's a lot of new materials and designs which are available, and if we use them strategically, we can improve resilience without the very big projects. You know, if you use self-cleaning concrete, you're going to make an impact on air quality. If you use pervious concrete, you can control flooding to some extent. This is one of the key features of resilience. You don't need really complicated systems which are so independent so that if there is a lack of power, the entire system fails. As someone said in a modern jet you have all kinds of control. But if you spill coffee the plane might crash.


So you don't want that. It's the same with building. This is what I tell my students: When we design a building, we are not assembling a clock. We need to make it really simple, and the design should be, you know, self-evident. People looking at it, by inspection, should know what it is.

Secondly, aging in place will require -- mixed use is not allowed, so this needs to be changed.

Now, I relied on a large number of people for slides, and they are listed over here, but I want to end with this quote. This, in 50 characters or less, tells what I wanted to say, and it says, "The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet." And because yesterday was the inauguration, I put a picture of the National Building Museum. The columns you see at the back are the largest in the world. They're brick columns eight feet wide -- eight feet in diameter and 75 foot high. The architect made sure this was -- this was the case. But one interesting fact is that in 1885 Grover Cleveland held the first inaugural ball there, which was attended by 5000 people, and the building didn't even have a roof.

So with that, I'm ready for questions. It's 11:53, so I tried to speed up but the nature of the presentation is such that it's, you know, you can't fast-forward. Thank you.


Andrew Reynolds:

Thank you, Professor, that was very, very interesting and particularly because many of us are getting older [laughs] among other things.

I just wanted to be sure that when people come to ask a question, please identify yourself and your organization. May I take the prerogative and ask the first question?

Rajan Sen:

Of course.

Andrew Reynolds:

I'm very interested to hear the development in the smog eating concrete, and particularly its hydrophilic qualities as well. But I wonder it when you have a hydrophilic effects, are you loading groundwater with contaminant ultimately. How are you in fact treating the runoff from this new infrastructure if we use it widely.

And the second question is on universal lifestyle and universal design. So much of the developing world is in a quandary because the smaller urban centers are now becoming gigantic megacities, and it's as much a peri-urban problem of migration from rural to urban setting without infrastructure. So I wonder if there's a philosophy in American civil engineering and architecture looking toward low-cost housing for such difficult challenges. Thank you.

Rajan Sen:

Well the first question is, you know, whatever is left over -- the titanium dioxide converts nitrates and volatile compounds into products which are considered to be harmless. That's nitrates, which are like fertilizers and sulfates.

The second is low-cost housing. There has been, you know, last year there was a Dartmouth professor who suggested the $300 house, and this was extraordinary because you know that it's not possible; that he was just pushing the frontier because he was getting fed up with the progress in Haiti. So of course there was actually a $300 house which was built, but -- and it had gratings and it had solar power and things like that. But there are attempts, you know there are some movement to build low-cost houses. Of course nowadays you find houses which are like hundred square foot houses, which are also low-cost. But there are communities in California and elsewhere where they are building homes which cost significantly less. I wish I could remember the actual example, but there's a lot of movement.

In India, Tata Industries are building homes which cost about ten to $12,000, but they consider that the homes have to have really good finishes because regardless of the price, people, you know, expect high quality. So it's not just low price. You have to have very good quality.

Elizabeth Prescott:

Hi. I'm Elizabeth Prescott and I'm with the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary's office here at the State. And I was interested to get your perspective on possibly some future disruptive technologies, and I'm thinking about 3-D printing. And I've actually heard it referenced in a construction context where designs could be developed and then just implemented very quickly in sort of large printers. And I wanted to get your input on whether you thought that was feasible and in what time frame.

Rajan Sen:

Well, you know, University of Southern California have actually, you know, done work in this area, and I've seen a video where they actually build an entire house with this kind of technology, with self-printing. But I'm not sure whether that's the future. There might be small parts which are built, but -- maybe connectors -- but whether entire structure will be built this way, I don't know. But there's work done, as I said, at the University of Southern California.

Female Speaker:

Thank you very much for the interesting presentation. Helen Santiago from urban climate change advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Two questions. One is what would you see as the major impediments to utilizing or to mainstreaming the existing technologies and materials that you spoke of.

And secondly, I'd be interested in your opinion in terms of the utilization of green infrastructure in the urban design for addressing the issues of climate change, air pollution, storm water management.

Rajan Sen:

Well the principal impediment is cost. Civil engineers tend to judge by initial cost. They don't even look at life cycle costs. So if the initial cost is lower, I think by statute you have to pick that design. So that's a real impediment because -- and also here it's not like in Germany where people have design build. So that actually encourages innovation because when you design and build, well, you know, finding new ways to construct.

The second question was green infrastructure. Well, you know, the problem I have with Lead is that LEAD doesn't take technical things into account. It's much more qualitative and descriptive. Germans have an equivalent system where they assign equal weight to technical because the technical matters are important. That's where engineering is. Otherwise you go for crowd sourcing. And, you know, as John Hillman pointed out, took 17 years for idea to develop. You know you can get great ideas but you're going to get a half-baked product which is not going to last 50, 60 years. And it discredits good ideas. Good ideas also have to be implemented. You know, the famous cases when they were going to additives on a fuel so that will stop the planes from -- reduce the flammability. Well, the first full-scale test failed. After that, that is never used again, and yet this was a great idea.

So we -- I think we need to be, you know, to some extent need some technical content in green developed infrastructure.

Male Speaker:

Thank you for your talk. I'm Claudio Cioffi fellow with George Mason University.

I had two quick questions. One is the 75 year standard you mentioned early in your talk. I wanted to know if that's still a common standard, or if that has somehow changed.

And the other question is a little bit more complicated I suppose. If you look at the Eastern seaboard of the United States and you think about all the hazards that will occur in one way or another out to 2050 when you -- which you use in your data, could you -- could you highlight some of the best foreign practices that the -- that plans for systems up and down the Eastern seaboard could possibly profit and benefit from in terms of things that we're not doing but we should be doing given these best practices in other countries such as Switzerland and others that you pointed out.

Rajan Sen:

Now 75 years is a return period, so that's what is often used. So when you design like, for example, you say Sandy is a one in 100 year storm, that doesn't mean that it's not going to occur every year. It has a probability of 1 percent every year. So it's in that sense 75. It really doesn't mean that at the end of 75 years, it's like a yoga, you have to destroy it. You know?

Male Speaker:


Rajan Sen:

The second part was what kind of solutions are available in Europe, for example. Well, Europe -- of course Dutch are the masters in terms of flood control because that's -- that seems to be a major issue. And they have, you know, floating homes; homes which are basically have -- which can float up in case there's flooding because they have decided that building dikes is not that great a solution. So now they want to accommodate the flooding, so the electrical connections and the water and sewerage have all -- are all flexible so they move up. But this looks like a costly solution, although I've seen example in Britain. Britain had record floods this year, so now they're looking at these amphibian homes. And they said if they could build homes for -- which will be 20 to 25 percent higher.

Hamburg has a solution for flooding where basically it's -- the first floor is, like, parking. And in other words you're building on a higher plane, higher level. So those are solutions but they may not be adoptable.

In Florida we have a solution. When you build in the flood control zones, we have buildings with knockout blocks, which means they're made -- they're supported on piles. But if there's a flood, there are parts of the building which are knocked out. Now this sounds very good in paper, but I'm wondering what happens after the flood. You know? How quickly you can get back, because that's critical.

Female Speaker:

I'm Rhonda Veno with Global Intergovernmental Theories. I'm curious if you have examples about how public/private partnerships are used to encourage innovation in infrastructure and if you have any examples around the world.

Rajan Sen:

Well, you know, oftentimes the research is done by private companies. For example, the cement companies which invented this, because the titanium dioxide has to be specially formulated because not all forms work. But Behr the research was done for the cement, but then you had -- which is a private company. This company is the fifth largest cement producer in the world. But then the research was done by the European -- was funded by the European Community. So there are examples where, you know, you have public -- and in the U.S. you have SBIR, STTR. So you have small businesses which are like 50 percent private and 50 percent universities. So that's a very good deal, but unfortunately the funding is relatively low. If you have $1 billion, then one percent of that is available for this kind of fund.

So there are a lot of opportunities for public/private funding in this country as well as -- I think if you have a good idea I think you are going to find people who will back it. Good ideas are hard to come by, I think.

Male Speaker:

Any other questions? Professor. Professor.

Male Speaker:

You have to go to the mic.

Male Speaker:

I'm sorry, actually I do have another question given your expertise in areas of concern. One of the really challenging aspects of these coupled systems that we rely upon to sustain urban life and civilization, I suppose, is that it's not clear how they interact. And when electrical failures lead to hydraulic complications which in turn cascade into this and that and the other, that whole dynamic is still to be worked out. And I wonder if you had some thoughts on this, particularly with regards to urban centers and the way in which cities nowadays are increasingly interconnected and so forth.

Rajan Sen:

There's a very good book which came out recently on this. I know the author's first name is Jonathan. I don't remember his last name. But essentially this type of interdependency is what makes cities -- which makes systems less resilient. So the example they quoted was New York's water system. It's fed by gravity, so not -- no moving parts. It has a complex system of pipes and valves, but eventually if you have something which runs on gravity, it's likely to be sustainable.

The more commentating you make a system and more it relies on, you know, other systems to function properly -- example is the cell towers. During hurricane Sandy the telephone companies complained that, you know, we don't want regulation. But they had backup power for only eight hours. So when you have a loss of power for three days the system became, you know, dysfunctional.

I think what is needed is some kind of penalty. You don't want regulations, you have to pay money. You know, if it doesn't work, you owe X dollars. Very quickly people will come up with ingenious solutions. This is what I favor; no regulations, but penalties. So people will then decide what kind of risks they can assume, and then you get a better solution because you know, people are always trying to cut costs and people are really inventive. And the whole society will be better off as a result.

Andrew Reynolds:

This leads me to offer a concluding thought, and that is that the former president of the National Academy of Engineering, Bill Wolf, William Wolf, said that we are -- in engineering we are dealing with systems and costs; that is design constraints and costs. And current president of the National Academy, Chuck West says the world is a system of systems, and engineering must follow these disciplines.

So what I have found this morning -- and I hope everyone -- I think it's a testimony to Professor Sen’s presentation that you're still here -- is that he's made something very mundane which we take for granted, our infrastructure and how engineers go about their craft, very animated and very relevant to everyone. So I thank you for this presentation, Dr. Sen, and it was an honor to be here with you. Thank you very much.

Rajan Sen:

Thank you.