Grand Societal Challenges

Rooted in fundamental mechanics, systems thinking, advanced computational methods and uncertainty quantification, our program successfully navigates the conflicting objectives inherent in addressing grand societal challenges, such as resilient cities, human safety and security, space exploration and habitation, decision-making and health, and future energy infrastructure.


smart city and wireless communication network, abstract image visual, internet of things Resilient Cities

Goal: Foster safe and prosperous urban communities in a complex and uncertain environment

Over 50% of the current world population lives in cities. By 2050, this number is expected to be higher than 70% of the population. While the emergence of megacities creates opportunities for a more connected, accessible and diverse society, it also presents significant challenges, such as limited resources and increased susceptibility to natural and man-made disasters. In response to these challenges, CaSE seeks to enable sustainable, smart and resilient solutions, from enhancing earthquake resistance of structures, to systems-based solutions that address food insecurity, to the development of new materials and structures for improved fire safety. Learn more about our research in this area.


Space Exploration and Habitation

Goal: Provide innovation for the expansion of our civilization beyond Earth’s boundaries

Advancing space exploration and aeronautics capabilities through improved technology is a national priority.  Future expeditions to the moon, Mars, and deep space pose enormous engineering challenges. Space vehicles must carry sufficient payload to support human life and exploration in extraterrestrial environments, requiring optimal designs that balance weight minimization with structural safety under uncertain extreme loads. Furthermore, sustained human habitation on other planets will require a carefully designed infrastructure that makes use of highly constrained resources. CaSE faculty are developing technology that will support long-term exploration and inhabitation of space, including optimized ultra-lightweight materials, cutting-edge computational mechanics, and systems-based approaches to community design. Learn more about our research in this area.

(Moon Village image courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. SOM is the architect, engineer, and master planner of Moon Village.)


Medical Healthcare Concept - Doctor in hospital with digital medical icons graphic banner showing symbol of medicine, medical care people, emergency service network, doctor data of patient health.Decision-making and Health

Goal: create quantitative tools for making decisions that ensure healthy communities

Medical research and innovation have driven exponential growth in the number of available new treatments. However, this increase in medical breakthroughs has led to only a moderate increase in life expectancy, as well as skyrocketing healthcare costs. This is largely attributed to the fact that innovations operating at the intersection of healthcare and society have not kept pace with the medical science. CaSE recognizes that human health is a complex, connected, and multi-stakeholder system of people, processes, physical facilities and organizations. We seek to leverage systems modeling, modern analysis, and advanced optimization to help transform data into decisions that will ensure healthy and more equitable communities. Learn more about our research in this area.


Earth globe in children hands. Little girl holding symbol world map. Environment conservation, save planet, unity, peace and protect conceptHuman Safety and Security

Goal: Develop technology, systems and policies that protect communities against evolving threats

Communities rely on technologies that protect inhabitants from natural and anthropogenic hazards. One dimension of this is ensuring public safety through robust infrastructure design and policy planning. CaSE faculty are recognized and funded by many government agencies and industry for their highly sophisticated computational models, risk-based practices, and rigorous optimization approaches that support national security. With a core value of protecting and preserving the sanctity of human life and society, CaSE aims to improve technologies, policies and infrastructure that are robust to evolving threats, from changing climate, to acts of war, to global pandemics. Learn more about our research in this area.


Solar energy panel photovoltaic cell and wind turbine farm power generator in nature landscape for production of renewable green energy is friendly industry. Clean sustainable development concept.Future Energy Infrastructure

Goal: Design sustainable energy production, transport and planning solutions

Affordable, clean, and secure energy is essential for improving economic productivity, enhancing quality of life, and protecting our environment.  Myriad engineering challenges exist, including the expansion of renewable energy, efficient energy storage and conversion, transportation of energy resources, and increasing demands on an aging distribution infrastructure. CaSE responds to this challenge with mechanics-based solutions for energy materials, structural engineering advances to support new materials and geometries required by renewable energy infrastructure, and systems-based planning that recognizes the interdependency of changing energy supply, aging distribution networks, dynamic markets, and increasing hazards. All of these activities contribute to an efficient, reliable, and sustainable future energy infrastructure. Learn more about our research in this area.

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