A New Approach to Studying Complex Urban Systems
Drexel Engineering Cities Initiative (DECI) is the foundation of a new approach to studying urban systems. DECI focuses on the engineering of cities, policy development, and the creation of environmentally sustainable urban habitats that function for people and society.
Both the industrialized world and developing nations are experiencing unprecedented urban growth, with new urban centers as well as many older cities gaining population and density. This rapid growth is a double-edged sword: while cities offer access to economic opportunities and represent efficient delivery of services to large populations, growth puts a serious strain on the urban environment. DECI aims to address the challenges associated with this urbanization and to educate qualified engineers, designers, health practitioners and social scientists to implement solutions to the complex problems of overworked urban systems.
DECI departs from traditional approaches to managing regional and urban growth to research and develop new and innovative methods to design and manage safety, sustainability, and quality of life for urban dwellers. The initiative coordinates research activities among faculty from across the university whose interests touch on urban systems, and enables participants to conduct focused, high impact, problem-driven urban systems research and training. We anticipate that the research outcomes and training provided as part of this initiative will forever change the way cities are understood, planned, engineered, governed and managed.
Coordinating Multi-Disciplinary Research
DECI faculty are a truly multidisciplinary cross-section of the Drexel community, and represent colleges and schools across the university:
- Arts and Sciences
- Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems
- Information Science and Technology
- Media Arts and Design
- Nursing and Health Professions
- Public Health
DECI researchers look at the social, political, economic, technological and geographical forces at play in shaping and reshaping a city's design and function. They consider the multiple aspects of a city's infrastructure including health, transportation, water and sewerage, ports, energy, and communication as well as environmental engineering, environmental justice, and critical infrastructure protection, among others. Technical challenges are considered in light of larger social issues, including historical patterns in policymaking, citizen participation and the public understanding of science and technology.
Innovation, Applicability, and Connection with Urban Stakeholders
Research conducted as part of DECI has several distinct characteristics, including:
- An innovative, multidisciplinary focus that transcends conventional boundaries between traditional academic disciplines.
- Application-inspired research yielding high impact, implementable results. Specifically researchers want their results to be useful to those developing public infrastructure and technology policy, and to develop state of the art tools in urban technology systems development and management.
- Full and meaningful engagement with urban stakeholders throughout all stages of research, including problem definition, development of research methods, and implementation/technology transfer.