MS in Critical Infrastructure Systems - Proposed New Graduate Degree

MS in Critical Infrastructure Systems -- New Graduate Degree

America’s aging infrastructure is crumbling: bridges have collapsed, levees have burst and highways have fallen.  Many of our ports, industries and transportation centers, moreover, need to be better secured. Unsurprisingly, there is an increasing demand for skilled professionals who can repair and manage the nation’s infrastructure.  NJIT offers a new program – a master’s degree in Infrastructure Systems – that teaches students the skills they’ll need to revamp our infrastructure.

 In this interview, Professor Fadi Karaa, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, discusses the new master’s degree. Karaa studied civil engineering and systems analysis at MIT. He is an expert in construction management and water distribution networks, and he has researched ways to rehabilitate America’s infrastructure.

Why should students consider getting a master’s in critical infrastructure systems? 
The work that needs to be done to repair our nation’s critical infrastructure is one of the great technical challenges of the 21st century. The hurricanes that buffeted the Gulf Coast have shown both the importance and the vulnerability of our infrastructure: the complex network of highways, bridges, tunnels and airports. It showed us the value of our seaports, flood-control structures and water supply, as well as our power grid, communications systems and waste-disposal systems. We’ll get hit with more natural disasters and accidents, and we must be prepared for terrorism. All that demands skilled resources and employees who will create a robust and sustainable infrastructure that can withstand all of those threats. 

What does the program cover?
The master’s in Critical Infrastructure Systems program draws upon the full resources of the university. Students in this program take classes in architecture, civil engineering and industrial engineering, as well as in electrical and computer engineering, engineering management, information systems and business management. They also take public health classes at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. UMDNJ is collaborating with NJIT on this degree. The program covers all the aspects of infrastructure: civil and engineered systems, including buildings, urban development and transportation, which includes highways, tunnels, bridges and airports. It also covers power plants and water systems, telecommunications, computer networks and cyber infrastructure, banking and finance as well as public health infrastructure management.

Can students specialize in major areas of infrastructure?
Students can choose from two major concentrations: Critical Infrastructure Life-Cycle Management, which includes life-cycle asset management, maintainability and safety engineering, vulnerability analysis, crisis impact analysis and mitigation, infrastructure inter-dependencies, rehabilitation technologies, problem detection and process propagation and program management. And Critical Infrastructure Security and Emergency Management, which includes emergency information systems, emergency management, public health preparedness, enabling and protective technologies with applications to homeland security and critical infrastructure, population protection and operational response management. 

What kind of classes are offered?
Some core classes include Critical Infrastructure I: Performance and Risk Analysis of Infrastructure Systems; Critical Infrastructure II: Security Management of Critical Infrastructure; Infrastructure and Facilities Remediation and Elements of Infrastructure Planning.

What kind of working professionals might consider getting this degree?

  • Private and Public Sectors: People who are now managing any elements of the nation’s infrastructure or who are developing solutions for its rehabilitation and expansion would love this degree program.
  • Multi-Industry: So would anyone working in engineering, computing, transportation and public utilities. And if you are working in the field of emergency management, especially the protection of public and private infrastructure, you’ll fit in well in this program.
  • Multi-Function:  The degree has wide appeal, so facility managers, engineers, architects and emergency planners should all consider this degree, as should all those working in to secure the safety of our infrastructure.

Do students have the chance to do research?
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has an extensive research program that includes critical infrastructure, transportation, environmental engineering and construction engineering and management. The Infrastructure Planning program at NJIT’s New Jersey School of Architecture also encourages students to work on a wide range of real-world projects. Recently, students helped rebuild a hurricane-leveled neighborhood in New Orleans. Students have also worked to rejuvenate older industrial cities.

What kind of jobs will graduates of this program get?
They will work as senior analysts or as planning advisers. Some might work as managers on major infrastructure projects. Still other might manage a power plant or a utility company, or be in charge of life cycle management for a company. Others will find jobs in the growing field of emergency management and homeland security. The demand for people who do these jobs well is great, and the careers promise to be very rewarding.

(by Robert Florida, University Web Services)