According to Barry Ritholst in his column “There’s nothing new about uncertainty” published in The Washington Post on July 8th, 2012 “From the investor’s perspective, markets require uncertainty to function. Indeed, they thrive on doubt, imperfect information and a lack of consensus. Uncertainty drives the market’s price-discovery mechanism. Investing requires differences of opinion, for when there is broad agreement about an asset’s fair value, trading volume falls. Without uncertainty, who would take the opposite side of your trade?”
This is perhaps true from an investor’s perspective but engineers try to fight on a daily base every kind of uncertainty whether in their design calculations, in their numerical models, in their financial assumptions or even in their decision making. It is obvious that engineers want to get rid of uncer-tainty or at least will try to minimize it. Uncertainty quantification based on mathematical models applied to engineering is becoming increasingly important but paradoxically research in this field in Belgium is fairly scattered and integration and consolidation in practical engineering applications could be improved.
With this intent a platform for exchange of experience, know-how and knowledge between the academic world and industry was founded by Dr. ir. Didier De Buyst, Member of the SCK•CEN Board of Governors, and prof. Dr. ir. Jozef Van Dyck, Managing Director of D’Appolonia Belgium and part-time professor at the KULeuven. It is supported by SCK•CEN and hosted by ie-net® NPO. Seminars and workshops are organized to cover different engineering domains (mechanics, hydrodynamics, nuclear, civil, ICT, etc.) with the focus on mastering uncertainty as a common theme.
Seminar: Mastering Uncertainty in Advanced Geo-Hazard Engineering
The second seminar "Mastering Uncertainty in Advanced Geo-Hazard Engineering" on 27 May 2014, addressed geo-hazard engineering with lectures on risks related to large mass movements in seismic mountain regions, potential risks and drawbacks of shale gas extraction and offshore geo-hazards, PSHA and risk assessment.
The keynote speaker was prof. Dr. E. Vanmarcke from Princeton University (who visited SCK•CEN on 28 May, see picture) with a lecture on multi-hazard geo-risk assessment, with a focus on long linear structures such as levees. Prof. Vanmarcke showed in a lucid manner how random field theory (the modeling of spatial variations) allows to relate safety calculated at single points to safety at the system level and how the variation of this relation with the failure mechanism (i.e. slope stability versus piping) affects the way to calculate and monitor the risk.
Prof. Dr. Erik Vanmarcke (in the middle) flanked by Dr. eng Didier Debuyst (member of the SCK•CEN Board of Governors and of the ie-net management committee), Peter Baeten (SCK•CEN, Advanced Nuclear Systems Institute Manager), Hamid Aït Abderrahim (SCK•CEN, MYRRHA Director) and Bong Yoo (SCK•CEN, Primary System Design)