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Specific Topics

The Symposium will emphasize the methods of reliability engineering and risk management of engineering systems with special applications on the assessment of safety and reliability, the planning and design, maintenance and retrofitting of infrastructure systems under conditions of uncertainty. Specific topics would include those identified above (non inclusive):

  • Reliability-based methods

  • Design and operation of infrastructure systems under uncertainty

  • Application of reliability-based methods to specific infrastructure systems, including

        -Buildings and Bridges

        -Offshore wind turbines

        -High-speed rails

        -Offshore and marine systems

        -High-performance computer systems

        -Mechanical systems, such as heavy machinery

        -Electrical and other power transmission systems

        -Reliability-based codes for design and maintenance


Short Descriptions of Specific Topics:

The Symposium will emphasize the practical applications of a number of topics, all of which are currently of major technological significance, including the following:


1. Land-Based Structures -- In the case of a land-based built structure, such as a building or a bridge, safety over its useful life (which may be for 50 years or more), is paramount to the occupants of the building and to the public transportation of the bridge. A structure may be subjected to a variety of loadings over its life-cycle, including severe wind storms or intense earthquake excitations depending on its geographic location. The loadings invariably contain significant uncertainties; the integrity or strength of a structure can deteriorate with time which also contains uncertainty.

     A land-based structure must also contend with problems associated with the variability and uncertainty of the ground deposits. Moreover, for underground structures, such as a tunnel, the safety of the structure is clearly paramount.


2. Floating Structurees -- Similarly, a ship or other floating and offshore structures must withstand ocean wave forces; the intensities of these forces, including their impacts on a structure, also contain significant uncertainties. In most cases, the integrity of the structure would deteriorate with time because of fatigue damage (under ocean environment) which is also of major concern.


3. High-speed rail systems -- Since the train loads, environmental factors, materials and structural mechanics of high-speed railway systems are random and time-dependent, it is of vital importance to evaluate the safety and serviceability of the high-speed railway system based on the time-dependent reliability assessment method. Although the occurrence of earthquake is rare compared with the environmental factors and train loads, the high-speed railway system may be destroyed under earthquake. Therefore, the seismic reliability of the high-speed railway should also be of concern.


4. Mechanical systems -- Mechanical systems include industrial, power, petrochemical and manufacturing facilities, and major machinery. The reliability and security of these systems are primary concerns for ensuring the wellbeing of communities and society at large. Quantitative methods are a primary focus in this symposium for assessing and managing risks by informing decisions and policies. Characterizing hazards and degradation modes probabilistically is a necessary prerequisite for performing risk analysis. The economics of risk-management strategies offer a basis for risk elimination, transfer, control and reduction in a cost effective manner. Aging systems require life expectancy and extension studies that could also be informed by risk analysis methods. Data availability, sources, needs and associated uncertainties determine appropriate analytical methods to use. Uncertainty quantification and the value of information are essential topics that are within the scope of the symposium.


5. High-performance computer (HPC) systems -- High-performance computers (HPC) are the latest computational tools available for solving complex computational problems.  An HPC consist of many processors (in the 1000’s) that run in parallel. Such machines are particularly well suited for processing complex problems in reliability engineering, such as through Monte Carlo simulation (MCS); for this purpose, the multiple processors will share the same algorithm but with different random inputs. For example, in an HPC with 1000 processors, one simulation run, will yield 1000 random sample solutions.  Clearly, the operational reliability of an HPC machine depends on the reliability of each processor, but also on the reliability of all the multiple processors running in parallel. Furthermore, the software must be appropriate for implementing the parallel computations.


6. Electrical transmission and distribution systems -- Clearly, electrical transmission and distribution systems are among the most important infrastructure systems sustaining modern human society. The safety and reliability of such systems, in particular under earthquakes or strong wind, are of paramount importance. The uncertainties involved in the transmission towers, from tens of meters to several hundred meters tall, and also subjected to earthquakes, strong winds, and even huge waves (e.g., for  electric transmission systems of offshore wind energy), have to be considered in a rational way, together with the strong nonlinear behaviors exhibited by the systems. Particularly important are also the spatial variation in the actions for such large distributed infrastructure systems.


7. Offshore Wind Turbine Systems -- Generation of electrical power from wind is one of the clean energy sources. For this purpose, wind turbines are the most promising method to generate such clean energy, and sites for installation of these turbines are often offshore where sustained winds can be expected. The reliability of such offshore turbine systems is essential for the generation of wind energy, including for Taiwan.


Finally, in order to apply the reliability-based approach to the design and maintenance of all mechanical and physical systems, appropriate reliability-based design methods are needed for each of the respective systems. For ease of implementation of these new methods, the procedure must be formulated in deterministic form, such as deterministic design standards or design codes. Accordingly, general concepts as well as system-specific reliability-based methods for the design and maintenance will be included in the Symposium.


To serve society and the public, all of the engineering systems described above must ensure system safety where lives are concerned, or system reliability where sustained operational performance is required. In practical terms, such concerns must be considered and evaluated under conditions of uncertainty.  


Uncertainties are unavoidable in predicting future conditions during the planning and design of any infrastructure system. In light of such uncertainties, the proper approach in the design of a new infrastructure system, as well as in maintenance and retrofitting of an existing system over its life-cycle, therefore, would properly require the reliability-based approach.


Taiwan Tech is organizing the International Symposium on Emerging Developments and Innovative Applications of Reliability Engineering and Risk Managements to address the major and related issues described above. The Symposium is planned to be held on the campus of Taiwan Tech, scheduled tentatively for November 2021. The Symposium will cover ongoing and emerging research and development (including student dissertations) in reliability engineering with emphasis on the major infrastructure engineering systems mentioned above. It will also cover novel applications of technology to specific types of engineering systems.

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