DTRA Awards $1 Million for Post-Attack Network Research

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) recently awarded four UT Austin faculty $1 million for a study regarding effects and reparation efforts following WMD attacks on interdependent networks. 

The project will focus on developing theoretical and computational approaches to outages and performance degradation in electric power, communications, transportation networks and other critical infrastructure that occurs following WMD attacks. Air-traffic, water, food and trade are other physical networks the research plans to review, as current dependence on these resources is unprecedented. 

Prof. Ross Baldick from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) will direct the project, with help from ECE professor Alexis Kwasinski, Chandra Bhat from the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and WNCG’s Sriram Vishwanath.

The UT Austin research team will consider the movement of WMD contamination and the intensity and duration of the spread of contamination across networks. The goal of the project is to develop faster and more effective relief efforts and recovery times following an attack.

Prof. Baldick brings an expertise of electric power systems and electricity markets with experience in techniques that analyze the vulnerability of attack in electric networks. Prof. Alexis Kwasinski’s expertise falls within the category of power and energy conversion with a focus on local power utilization.

Prof. Chandra Bhat from the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) will use his expertise in travel demand modeling and travel behavior analysis to determine the flow of contamination throughout networks. Prof. Sriram Vishwanath’s background in information theory, mathematical modeling and analysis of networks will also advise the project, with his expertise in mechanisms that revive and test attacked networks using mobile agents.

Each professor brings a unique combination of individual talents and expertise to the table to create an interdisciplinary study focused on strengthening the defense and response time of interdependent networks.

Four Ph.D. students will also participate in the project, drawn from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and other programs to support the interdisciplinary nature of the work.

The funding will pay out over a three-year period and has the potential to increase over time.