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Sustainability in Urban Infrastructure, and Introduction to Probability and Statistics


Students at Orientation

Students will take 2 classes, for a total of 6 credits. Both of these classes will be taught in English.  Classes are in the morning and each class is 2 hours long.  They both feature lectures, homework assignments, and examinations.  Depending on your major, these classes can either count as either required classes or technical electives.  Please review your courses with your Engineering Academic Advisor.  Aerospace Engineering Majors must review courses for degree eligibility with their Engineering Academic Advisor.

A Notre Dame Faculty member will teach Sustainability in Urban Infrastructure, and a faculty member from Alcoy, fluent in English, will teach Probability and Statistics.

Sustainability in Urban Infrastructure

Taught by Rob Nerenberg

Cities are the world’s economic engines, and typically offer a high quality of life. But in order to

function, energy, food, water, raw materials, and manufactured products must be brought into

cities. Solid, liquid, and gaseous wastes, as well as storm water, need to be collected and

discharged back to the environment. This requires sophisticated networks of power,

transportation, water supply, storm water management, and waste management. These systems

have developed historically, but may no longer fit our needs. In particular, there are major

concerns about the sustainability and resilience of urban infrastructure.

In order to transition to more sustainable systems, it is critical to understand (a) what is

sustainability, and how can it be achieved (b) what historical factors led to our current

infrastructure, (c) how does our urban infrastructure work, and (d) how can we adapt it to provide

services in a more sustainable fashion.

This course will use simple mathematical models to describe the concept of sustainability and

the consequences of neglecting it. Then it will describe urban infrastructure systems, how they

developed historically, and how urban systems can transition to more sustainable modes. While

environmental systems will be emphasized, e.g., potable water, storm water, and wastewater,

the course also will address power and electrical grids, and transportation/communication

systems. Differences between developed and developing countries will be highlighted. The

water/energy nexus, water/food nexus, and industrial pollution prevention/waste minimization

techniques will be discussed. Quantitative engineering tools, accessible to sophomores, will be

used to assess system sustainability, e.g., models of population growth with impacts on

resources, management of peak demands (electrical, transportation, water), flow in groundwater

systems (aquifer capacity, effects of overexploitation), basics of urban hydraulics and hydrology

(water and sewer network analysis, effects of climate change on water resources, urban

infrastructure and flooding), and basics of biological waste treatment (how wastewater can be

treated for resource recovery and reuse, production of biogas). Exercises will be done on

spreadsheets or Matlab. The course will discuss specific measures to improve sustainability, such

as local energy production (e.g., wind, solar, biomass), advanced sensing and computerized

operation of infrastructure networks, recovery of resources from wastes, and urban farming.

Probability and Statistics

This course provides an introduction to statistics for engineers, covering aspects of descriptive statistics, basic probability theory, conditional probability, independent events and probability models for random variables, including discrete continuous random variables.  It also covers an introduction to statistical inference: confidence intervals and hypothesis tests.  

For engineers, a good knowledge of probability and statistics can provide the basis for making decisions or choosing actions.  

Program Events

In addition to the 2 classes, students participate in program excursions throughout Spain.  They include things of cultural and engineering significance.  Click here for more information.