Reliability engineering, system safety, and risk analysis are interrelated disciplines. More precisely, risk analysis provides the overarching conceptual framework for the other two. Reliability engineering aims at the development and application of methods and tools to (1) understand why and how components, systems, and processes fail, (2) measure, track, and predict levels of reliability during systems life cycle, (3) improve reliability by applying science and engineering to remove failure causes, and (4) provide input to decisions regarding system design and operation.  The Garrick Institute’s CRRE leverages the range of expertise that is already present in various departments of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science to define areas of concentration, develop new research initiatives, secure new funding, and attract leading researchers to the CRRE.

The CRRE has identified three strategic research areas reflecting emerging industry and public sector needs that call for advanced methods and technologies: 

X-Ware Systems Reliability

Modern systems are a hybrid of hardware, software, and human elements or subsystem, with highly complex interactions and interdependencies (X-Ware). Never before in the history of engineered systems has the challenge of identifying and safeguarding against system vulnerabilities to failure been so formidable. While the need is clear, current reliability and safety engineering methods and tools are totally inadequate, as they tend to focus on either the hardware, or the software, or human function, and not designed to look at failures emerging from the complexity of interactions and interfaces of X-ware systems. A comprehensive approach requires methods for identifying interaction failure modes, and new design operational concepts to prevent or mitigate their effects. CRRE aims to develop the necessary methods and technologies to address this critical need.

Resilience Engineering

Major accidents and failures with high consequence are often hard to recover from, and the recovery is usually an afterthought, reactive in nature, and unanticipated by system designers. Over the past few years the idea of making engineered systems resilient to failures, with built-in ability to recover, has gained some momentum. While the extent to which “resilience engineering” can be realized is not known, the appeal of the idea, enormous implications, and the vast research horizon are not difficult to imagine. The Garrick Institute seeks research opportunities to introduce resilience through new design paradigms and full integration of advances in relevant disciplines such as materials science, robotics, electrical engineering and computer science, and human factors.

Prognostics and Health Management of Complex Systems

The confluence of recent advancements in sensor technology, information technology, probabilistic inference methods, physics of failure sciences, and complex system modeling offers the foundation for the next major push in realizing on-line, real-time condition monitoring, diagnostics, and prognostics for complex hybrid systems. The strong momentum in this direction is evidenced by the formation of research groups in prognostics and health management (PHM), creation of professional societies, and active interest and initiatives by various industries as well as the public sector. Other domains of interest and natural extensions are, “fault-adaptive controls”, and “methods for identifying and analyzing failure precursors”. Broad topics of research pursued at the Garrick Institute include (1) large scale complex system PHM technology development, and (2) model-based integration of diagnostics and prognostics for reliability and safety.