Cornell University

Systems Seminar/Ezra's Round Table: Darryl Farber (Penn State) - Strategic Foresight and Analysis of Critical Infrastructure Systems

Friday, September 29, 2017 at 12:15pm

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 253

This presentation reports on a research initiative that explores the interdependencies of a system of systems — the built environment, energy, and transportation — related to the redevelopment of The Navy Yard in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Metropolitan Region as well as to future planning that broadens the scope to include the mid-Atlantic region from New York City to Hampton Roads, Virginia. The goal of the project is a clearer understanding of the dynamics of multi-scale interactions and interdependencies of sociotechnical systems that will be useful to the professionals that own, operate and invest in the systems, and that will advance the scientific understanding of complex systems of systems. One of the main challenges is the development of models that correspond to the explicit and tacit knowledge of system practitioners. This is related to the problem that understanding and the subsequent planning and design of evolving sociotechnical systems are “wicked” problems and one characteristic is there is no definitive formulation.

Our findings indicate that systems practitioners have an overarching concern of a fragmented regional policy and decision-making process. Four themes emerged: 1. vulnerability of aging infrastructure, 2. integration of emerging technology into existing infrastructure, 3. lifestyle and value changes, and 4. financial innovations, as challenges to generating secure and resilient critical infrastructure systems.


Darryl Farber is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Design in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs in the College of Engineering at Penn State University and serves as the Managing Director of the Engineering Systems and Policy Program. His main scholarly interest is strategic foresight and analysis of critical infrastructure systems.

Dr. Farber earned a B.S. (honors) in Agriculture, General Plant Sciences from Cornell University, a M.S. in Agricultural Economics, and Ph.D. in Technology Management and Policy from Penn State University. He has served as Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University and as a Visiting Lecturer-Project Associate in the Public Policy Programme at the National University of Singapore, which is now the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. In business, he co-founded Carbon Trap Technologies, L.P., a mineralization carbon dioxide sequestration company. Dr. Farber has served on the Executive Board of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, and currently serves on the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal Committee and on the Executive Committee of the Council of Engineering Systems Universities.

Event Type



College of Engineering, Systems Engineering, Sustainability


systems engineering, College of Engineering





Darryl Farber

Speaker Affiliation

School of Engineering Design, Technology, & Professional Programs, The Pennsylvania State University

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