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TRANSP Seminar: When Forecasting Fails – Assuring Infrastructure Performance in an Uncertain World, Joseph L. Schofer, PhD

Forecasts of needs for and performance of transportation and other civil infrastructure systems are essential for supporting design and decisions about those systems. Yet forecasts are inherently imperfect because of complexities of the systems themselves and uncertainties about external factors influencing system performance. Modest forecast errors are tolerable when they are within the range of adaptability of socio-technical systems. But sometimes forecasts are importantly wrong because of major surprises that significantly influence system performance and, sometimes, survival. While forecasts will always be important for decision support, and research to improve them continues to bear fruit, assuring the resilience of transportation and other infrastructure systems cannot rely on forecasts alone. We will illustrate some key sources of surprise that can affect infrastructure system performance, and we will review some strategies for assuring system resilience in the face of these uncertainties, focusing on fail-soft options, financial management, contingent investment, and adaptive design for transportation.


Dr. Joseph L. Schofer is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Associate Dean at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he is also Director of the Infrastructure Technology Institute. Schofer earned his B.E. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He is actively engaged with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council, chairing national policy studies on Equity Implications of Evolving Transportation Finance Mechanisms and Strategies for Improved Passenger and Freight Travel Data; serving on the Technical Advisory Committee on Capacity for the Strategic Highway Research Program. He has been on the Northwestern University faculty since 1970, serving as chairman of the department from 1997 to 2002, and as Interim Dean of the McCormick School during 2004-2005. His research and teaching are in transportation policy planning, analysis, evaluation, and behavior. He has published over 130 articles and book chapters and more than 50 technical reports. He received the 2011 Roy W. Crum Distinguished Service Award from the Transportation Research Board.
Pizza will be provided!

Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 2:10pm to 3:30pm

John D. Tickle Engineering Building, 500
851 Neyland Dr, Knoxville, TN 37996

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations




Current Students, Faculty & Staff, General Public


CEE Seminar, CEE Fall 2018


Civil and Environmental Engineering

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