Engineering Resilience in Critical Infrastructure Symposium to be held virtually

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: November 19, 2021 10:00 a.m.

All are welcome to attend the free symposium, but registration is required.
All are welcome to attend the free symposium, but registration is required. Image: Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

The University of Regina’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is hosting a variety of researchers and experts for the Engineering Resilience in Critical Infrastructure Virtual Symposium to discuss the vulnerabilities that society is currently facing and could face in the future. 

“We are living closer to the edge these days,” said Dr. Raman Paranjape, the Symposium’s organizer as well as Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) and professor of Electronic Systems Engineering. “Climate change, political conditions, advancements in computing, and even our interconnected world leave us operating with smaller buffers and limited excess capacity. This means we are vulnerable to any kind of dramatic event, whether it’s wild variations of weather, like earthquakes or solar flares, or businesses and large organizations being technologically vulnerable to threats like cyberattacks.” 

The Symposium, which takes place on November 26, will feature presentations on topics such as infrastructure and pipeline integrity, bridge resilience, traffic solutions, disaster governance and cyber threats in computer networks. A full list of speakers and their area of expertise can be found here

Paranjape says all the topics are important points of discussion because it doesn’t just take an extreme event like the recent cyberattack on the Newfoundland and Labrador healthcare system or the massive flooding in British Columbia for people to feel dramatic impacts of infrastructure loss. Living in Saskatchewan, many of us have experienced infrastructure loss during a major snowstorm or blizzard. Roads, highways and even bus services are shut down due to the weather and poor driving conditions; resulting in major disruptions and delays for everyone who has to travel in or around the city. 

He also noted how the Symposium topics are relevant to the role engineers play in disaster prevention and mitigation. 

“What engineering is supposed to be is the interface between science and society – protecting society from things that are happening in this world that may not be very good for its members,” he said. “Engineers build the bridges that will be able to tolerate earthquakes or soil shifting, or the pipelines that won’t break. It’s also the engineers who have to figure out how to manage traffic in an emergency.” 

The Symposium will close with a presentation from the City of Regina on snow and ice management during typical and extreme winter conditions. 

“I am very pleased with the broad range of speakers participating in the symposium and I’m particularly pleased to have the City presenting on a topic that affects the lives of ordinary citizens,” Paranjape said. “As planning and maintaining an efficient transportation network, especially during winter, directly affect the citizens of Regina, this presentation will really bring the topic home for the audience.” 

Paranjape recently hosted the Engineering Water Systems Symposium in September, and is now holding follow up conversations with delegates and presenters to determine what potential collaborations could take place to improve issues surrounding water issues. He intends to take a similar approach with the Resilience of Infrastructure Symposium. 

“Having this conversation, bringing attention to the issues and planning and being prepared for the future is something we have to be actively thinking about,” Paranjape said. “If we’re just reacting to a cyberattack or reacting to a flood, then society will remain vulnerable and at risk. I think as a whole, citizens should be very interested in this topic and in people preparing for these kinds of unfortunate events.”

Register for the symposium here.