Unsustainable energy and material consumption, waste production, and emissions are some of today’s most pressing global concerns. To address these concerns, civil engineers are now designing facilities that, for example, passively generate power, reuse waste, and are carbon neutral. These designs are based foremost on longstanding engineering theory. Yet woven within this basic knowledge must be new science and new technologies, which advance the field of civil engineering to the forefront of sustainability-focused design.
Professor Lepech's research develops fundamental engineering design concepts, models, and tools that are tightly integrated with quantitative sustainability assessment and service life modeling across length scales, from material scales to system scales, and throughout the early design, project engineering, construction, and operation life cycle phases of constructed facilities. Professor Lepech's research follows the Sustainable Integrated Materials, Structures, Systems (SIMSS) framework. SIMSS is a tool to guide the multi-scale design of sustainable built environments, including multi-physics modeling informed by infrastructure sensing data and computational learning and feedback algorithms to support advanced digital-twinning of engineered systems. Thus, Professor Lepech's research applies SIMMS through two complementary research thrusts; (1) developing high-fidelity quantitative sustainability assessment methods that enable civil engineers to quickly and probabilistically measure sustainability indicators, and (2) creating multi-scale, fundamental engineering tools that integrate with sustainability assessment and facilitate setting and meeting sustainability targets throughout the life cycle of constructed facilities.
Most recently, Professor Lepech's research forms the foundation of the newly created Stanford Center at the Incheon Global Campus (SCIGC) in South Korea, a university-wide research center examining the potential for smart city technologies to enhance the sustainability of urban areas. Located in the smart city of Songdo, Incheon, South Korea, SCIGC is a unique global platform to (i) advance research on the multi-scale design, construction, and operation of sustainable built environments, (ii) demonstrate to cities worldwide the scalable opportunities for new urban technologies (e.g., dense urban sensing networks, dynamic traffic management, autonomous vehicles), and (iii) improve the sustainability and innovative capacity of increasingly smarter cities globally.
With an engineering background in civil and environmental engineering and material science (BSE, MSE, PhD), and business training in strategy and finance (MBA), Professor Lepech continue to explore to the intersection of entrepreneurship education, innovation capital training, and the potential of startups to more rapidly transfer and scale technologies to solve some of the world's most challenging problems.