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Student Theses

Our team and affiliated faculty are always interested in working with new students on topics related to critical infrastructure modeling and analysis. We currently have interest to support student research and theses in the following areas (details provided below):
  • Interdependent Infrastructure Resilience Assessment for Military Installations

  • Department of Defense Infrastructure Investment for Resilient Installations

  • Combating Climate Surprise for Military Installations

If these topics do not suit you, we are always interested in helping motivated students develop new ideas and thesis proposals. Please check out Who We Are to learn more about the research interests across our distinguished scholars and trusted agents.

Interdependent Infrastructure Resilience Assessment for Military Installations

Point of Contact: Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Background: DoD services seek a better understanding of compound threats to interdependent infrastructure systems on their installations. Military services view infrastructure resilience broadly as a critical system that can, “take a punch, stay standing, and punch back." This corresponds to the capacity for infrastructure systems to survive events that threaten mission readiness, continue to function and recover in the immediate aftermath of an event for up to 14 days, and adapt to project combat power into the future. All DoD services have similar, lofty goals for infrastructure resilience. 
Thesis Topics:

1) Interdependent Infrastructure Simulation for Vulnerability Analysis: Currently, there is no standard way to integrate multiple models of electric power, water, transportation, and telecommunications systems into single interdependent system for resilience analysis. This means there is no way to measure interdependent vulnerabilities and cascading effects. We want to develop a standard architecture and runtime infrastructure to federate models used to measure real-world infrastructure operations together and assess their interdependencies. The student working on this project will get to work with real infrastructure data for communities and military installations to test their models and measure cascades. 

2) Identifying Worst-Case Disruptions in Interdependent Infrastructure Systems: Past studies led by the CID developed methods for assessing worst-case failures critical infrastructure systems. However, these methods largely focused on a single system (e.g., electric power) without considering interdependent failures and cascading effects. We want to develop computational and optimization-based methods for identifying worst-case disruptions in interdependent systems that are time dependent (consider time-shifted losses within and across systems) and operational state dependent (consider combinations of operational states across multiple systems).

For examples of similar work, see the following past thesis:

Department of Defense Infrastructure Investment for Resilient Installations

Point of Contact: Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Infrastructure readiness across the DoD is determined by two key performance indicators – the facility condition index (FCI), measuring infrastructure quality and condition and the MDI, measuring the importance of an asset or facility to military missions. While FCI helps decision-makers understand the likelihood that military infrastructure will survive extreme events like hurricanes, MDI is more relevant for resilience by capturing the capability for infrastructure services to adapt to compound threats. To achieve DoD resilience goals, MDI needs to incorporate an understanding of infrastructure interdependencies gained from operational resilience models.
Thesis Topics:

1) Developing a New MDI for Interdependent Infrastructure Resilience.  Existing methods for calculating MDI all stem from work by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). To calculate MDI for a given infrastructure asset, expert opinion determines how interruptible, relocatable, or replaceable an infrastructure service is within a single facility and among interdependent facilities. We want to create a new MDI that incorporates the key elements comprising MDI – service interruptibility, relocateability, and replaceability – into the worst-case failure assessment methods developed by CID experts

For examples of similar work, see the following past thesis:


Combating Climate Surprise for Military Installations

Related Project: Dystopia Climate Surprise
Point of Contact: Dr. David Alderson

The NPS Center for Infrastructure Defense (CID) is seeking masters students to conduct thesis research related to infrastructure resilience in the presence of climate-driven threats. Climate change is increasingly recognized as a national security threat, as evidenced by extreme weather events over the last few years that have crippled operations at a variety of locations. While the project is investigating effects on military installations, the same issues relate to civilian jurisdictions and organizations. Opportunities for thesis research are many, including:

  • Research local SOPs for managing CI systems and develop measures of organizational capacity to prevent and respond to extreme weather related events.

  • Investigate adaptability within organizations when events extend beyond foreseeability covered by SOPs

  • Develop a taxonomy of critical elements on which organizations plan for and respond to extreme weather events and related "surprise" effects on CI.

  • Specify a fictional virtual environment for CI exercises, training, and analysis that contains the requisite richness to assess, model, and experiment with effects of extreme weather events on CI and how organizations understand and respond to them.

  • Develop exercise "games" within the fictional virtual environment for exploring organizational "surprise" due to extreme weather events.

  • For DoD students, case study evaluation of the climate-related events and impact on DoD facilities such as Naval Air Station Pensacola, Camp Lejeune, Tyndall Air Force Base, and Offutt Air Force Base.