Lee's Paper Wins First Place at EMI Conference

Ph.D. student Ji Yun Lee won first place in the Probabilistic Methods Committee Student Paper Competition at this month’s Engineering Mechanics Institute Conference.

Lee, who’s entering her fourth year of doctoral studies this fall, looked at the long-term risks for buildings exposed to hurricanes and the impact of climate change on those risks. Using a hypothetical nine-story building in a hurricane-prone area, Lee’s winning paper determined that it’s possible to consider the impact of managing those risks on both the current and future generations of users.

Providing a framework to account for the costs and benefits of civil infrastructure over multiple generations is at the core of Lee’s overall research.

“Current decision-making processes tend to favor the current generation in engineering decisions and treat events in the far-distant future as having little present value,” Lee said. “My research has proposed a novel approach to intergenerational discounting method, which enables the decision framework to allocate costs and benefits [of infrastructure] equitably between current and future generations to support sustainable decisions regarding long-term public safety.”

Lee studies with CEE Professor Emeritus Bruce Ellingwood. She’s the second of his students to win first prize in this student paper competition in the last three years; Eun Jeong Cha, now teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, won in 2012.

Ellingwood said such repeated success highlights the strength of CEE's program.

"Eun and Ji Yun are among the latest in a chain of outstanding students working in the general area of natural hazards, structural reliability and probabilistic risk assessment that it has been my privilege to advise on doctoral research since arriving at Georgia Tech in 2000," he said. "It is the reputation of the Georgia Tech graduate program in civil and environmental engineering that has drawn students with the talent and motivation to venture into new and exciting areas of research. I consider myself very fortunate to have had such an outstanding group as research collaborators."