CCALS and Virginia State University (VSU), joined by the University of Virginia (UVA), hosted some of the world’s leading engineering systems researchers this October for CESUN 2021. Held virtually and in person in Charlottesville, VA on Oct. 10-12, 2021, the hybrid symposium welcomed its far-flung participants – for many, the first in-person scientific conference/symposium since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Meeting themes included logistics and transportation, design and manufacturing, health care, water and infrastructure systems, machine learning and optimization, human factors and risk communication, information assurance and security.

While CCALS, VSU and UVA were the symposium sponsors, students played a big role in both the technical program and the event’s organization, and the U.S. National Science Foundation was also a partial sponsor through the grant “Assessing International Collaboration Opportunities for Science and Technology Innovation: Methods and Approaches” (Award #1848669).

Keynote speakers included Tina Comes from TU Delft, Netherlands; Julie Ivy from North Carolina State University; Masaru Nakano from Keio University, Japan; Ana Mijic from Imperial College London, UK; and Igor Linkov from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Opening remarks came from Dr. Jennifer West, the new Dean of UVA’s Engineering School, Dr. Dawit Haile, the Dean of VSU’s College of Engineering and Technology, Dr. Brian Smith, the Chair of the UVA’s Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, Mark Manasco, the President and Executive Director of CCALS, and Dr. Babak Heydari, CESUN Director.

The symposium managed to deliver a high-quality technical program while ensuring the safety of in-person attendees. The organizing committee took extra cautionary measures to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for in-person attendees: besides following UVA’s COVID-19 policies, attendees submitted proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test; and the large auditorium, common area, and outdoor space of UVA’s Rice Hall allowed in-person attendance.

“CESUN is one of the few academic communities that work on complex sociotechnical engineering problems from both a design and policy perspective,” said Dr. Heydari. “COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to complex sociotechnical problems, and it was great to hear several great presentations on different aspects to these problems. We are very thankful to our host universities for organizing this conference at such a critical time.”

More information about the event can be found on the CESUN 2021 website. In addition, look for a special CESUN 2021 issue from Springer’s journal of Environment Systems and Decision, and a special CESUN 2021 issue from Wiley’s journal of Systems Engineering.

CESUN 2021 by the numbers

100 participants from 22 international universities*, 1 federal agency, and 1 company

5 keynote talks by prominent researchers from around the world

29 oral presentations

5 technical sessions

10 poster presentations

* The 22 universities were: University of Virginia, George Washington University, Stevens School of Technology, Virginia State University, MIT, Keio University (Japan), Northeastern University, Old Dominion University, University of Tokyo (Japan), Cornell University, Penn State University, State University of New York Buffalo, Virginia Tech, Dartmouth, Imperial College London (UK), Khalifa University (United Arab Emirates), King’s College London (UK), Missouri University of Science and Technology, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M University, TU Delft (Netherlands)

CESUN sponsors, left to right: CCALS’ President and Executive Director Mark Manasco; Dr. Joi Young Williams, Assistant Professor, VSU School of Engineering and Technology; Lessie Oliver-Clark, Instructor, VSU Department of Applied Engineering Technology; and Dr. James Lambert, Director, Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems, and Professor of Engineering Systems and Environment, UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science

Attendees, safely distanced, enjoy conference presentation.

Presentation by Dr. Babak Heydari, CESUN Director and one of the symposium’s keynote speakers

Attendees enjoy coffee and conversation around displays during symposium breaks.

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