The Engineering Complexity Resilience Network+

In partnership with:

Encore: The Project

ENCORE Network+ was a three year EPSRC funded project which addressed the Grand Challenge area of Risk and Resilience in Complex Engineered Systems (CES). CES examples include complex products consisting of many interacting components such as gas turbine engines and complex networks such as the UK’s digital, energy and transport networks. We lack a coherent understanding of what unifies the complexity of entities such as jet engines, cities and our national infrastructure, and of what tools we need necessary to manage and build CES that exhibit resilience or quantify the risks inherent in such systems. We exploit and synthesised our knowledge of natural and engineered systems, our current theories of complexity and the quantification and management of uncertainty and advanced optimisation techniques in order to develop powerful new tools and new understanding.

Our vision was to identify, develop and disseminate new methodologies to improve the resilience and sustainable performance of complex engineered systems. This included cities and national infrastructure, ICT and energy infrastructure and complex products such as aerospace engines and space launch and recovery systems.

Our approach was to investigate and create shared learning from (1) the manner in which naturally complex systems cope with risk and uncertainty to deliver resilience (ecosystems, climate, finance, physiology, etc.) and how such strategies can be adapted for engineering systems; (2) how the tools and concepts of complexity science can contribute towards developing a greater understanding of risk, uncertainty and resilience, and (3) distilling world‐class activity within individual CES domains to provide new insights for the design and management of other CES.

Aims & Objectives

The network had 3 aims :

Big Engineering Challenges

To define the big engineering challenges related to risk and uncertainty that complexity science can help address by developing a world class platform for the research and development of CES and identify the specific areas of focus to deliver this.

Methods Orientated Approach

Taking a “methods orientated” approach, undertake or identify, specify and articulate the need for:

  • Comparative analyses
  • Describe the interactions between the technical infrastructure and its social and cyber‐ physical contexts
  • Methodological efforts, aimed largely at capturing the network characteristics
  • Explicit testing and evaluation of the research


Network Sustainable for the Future

Work from the beginning to establish a network that is sustainable beyond the initial  three year funding period.

ENCORE assigned a significant proportion of its budget to exploring innovative ideas, which contributed to our understanding of research gaps and value of our endeavours. Taking a methods orientated approach, we identified the need for comparative analyses which would identify common challenges and opportunities to explore and characterise resilience in complex engineered and engineering systems (CEES).

The Feasibility Study calls were shaped to respond to an initial set of ENCORE themes:-

  • Resilience in network and process dynamics
  • Understanding the design consequences of spatio-temporal embedding
  • Design to benefit from developmental constraints
  • Managing uncertainty in complex engineering systems
  • Understanding risks in coupled socio-technical systems
  • Understanding the bi-directional impact of human behaviour on CEdS,

ENCORE announced one Feasibility study call per year of the project resulting in the award of £117,817 to 14 researchers from various institutions in the UK. The first two calls allowed for anyone with an interest in the key ENCORE domains to put forward their proposal, with the third call specifically shaped for early career researchers.

Below are the links to the final reports from the project in reverse chronological order:

Reports 2018

ENCORE Final Report

Disturbances Typology feasibility study report Nov 2018

Reports 2017

ENCORE Feasibility Study Report.pdf_Weisi Guo

Giuliano Punzo final report

ENCORE_Report_Sabato Manfredi

ENCORE - Blockchain - Chao Long - summary July 2018

Cranfield - Jun 2018 - Infrastructure Typologies report

ENCORE_Final report_April2018_Sathsara_Cardiff_Univ

Reports 2016

Christos Ellinas

Feasibility Studies Call Document

Neil Carhart_ Encore Network+ Engineering Standards and Resilience Causal Loop

Thilo Gross_SkylineReport

Jonathan Lawry accepted paper

Network Building & events

Over the course of the project through events, workshops and feasibility studies, the encore network has collaborated with both UK-based and international academics and industry professionals. These have been vital to the growth of the network and have allowed us to explore and understand complexity and resilience from different perspectives.

Through these events, we have identified four key translational challenges alongside the four research challenges that need to be addressed in order to translate science into action:

  1. Establish the demands of complexity Engineering Systems;
  2. Responding to the additional complexity challenges for systems engineering;
  3. Converting scientific knowledge to engineering know-how;
  4. The social changes needed to educate our engineers to deal with a probabilistic environment. [Details]


Outputs & Next Steps

The Management Team identified the need for the production of 4 papers, which acted as milestones against which the progress of ENCORE was monitored.

The Position Paper: Led by Prof. Varga this states the focus of the network. It documents the current state of the art in complexity science and the potential impact  of increasing complexity on the resilience of engineering systems.

The Methods Paper: Led by Prof Vasile and Prof. Purvis and supported by Dr Punzo and Neda Naghshbandi, the paper documents the process used by the ENCORE network to determine and justify suitable methods for quantification if uncertainty in CEES, and the methods for modelling complex interactions in CEES.

A Challenge Note outlined the main challenges and opportunities identified by the ENCORE network as of June 2017, almost half way through the grant period. It was  been prepared by a group of industrial and academic partners and had two main roles

  1. Respond to the request from EPSRC for our views on how future funding might be shaped relating to Complexity Science and Resilience.
  2. Act as a working paper for the preparation of the ENCORE Challenge Paper due to be published in 2018.

The Challenge Paper led by Prof. Mayfield and Dr Punzo with a team of industrial collaborators outlines the main challenges to CEES operation and development, and details the process by which these four challenges were identified, characterised and structured by the ENCORE Network.

The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) considers both the Complex Engineered Systems (CEdS), the cyber-physical engineered systems we create, and the Complex Engineering Systems (CEgS), the sociotechnical entities that conceive, design, construct and operate the CEdS.It is the final deliverable produced by ENCORE which describes and reflects upon our processes and findings and provides a research vision and roadmap for how we believe scientific endeavours should be shaped in order to address the strategic challenges that we have identified.

Our Amazing Team

Professor Martin Mayfield

Principle Investigator

Professor Liz Varga

Professor Alan Purvis

Professor Massimiliano Vasile

Dr Giuliano Punzo

Ms Natalie Pearson

For any email enquries please contact: encorenetwork@sheffield.ac.uk
You can also follow us on Twitter @encore_network

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