skip to main content


Thursday, April 21

8:15 – 9:15 am

Opening Plenary Program and Keynote

Tracking COVID-19 in Realtime: Challenges Faced and Lessons Learned

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Lauren Gardner and her team developed an online interactive dashboard, first released publicly on January 22, 2020, hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The dashboard visualizes and tracks the number of reported confirmed cases, deaths, and as of 2021, vaccinations for all countries affected by COVID-19. Further, all the data collected and displayed on the dashboard is made freely available in a GitHub repository, along with the live feature layers of the dashboard. The demand for such a service became evident in the first weeks the dashboard was online, and by the end of February, we were receiving over one billion requests for the dashboard feature layers every day, totaling over 200 billion requests to date. The dashboard is relied upon by most major national and international media outlets (NYT, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, etc), and informs COVID-19 planning and response efforts by local and national governmental organizations, emergency response teams, public health agencies, and infectious disease researcher teams around the world.

Key Topics:

  • Overview of the evolution of the dashboard, discussion of some of the challenges faced, and methods by which disease tracking could be done better in the future.
  • Discussion of how the data has been used to build outbreak prediction models and improve general understanding of COVID-19 spreading risk

Lauren GardnerLauren Gardner is an associate professor jointly appointed in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, and the Director of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. She is the creator of the JHU COVID-19 interactive web-based dashboard being used by public health authorities, researchers, and the general public around the globe to track the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The dashboard, which debuted on January 22, became the authoritative source of global COVID-19 epidemiological data for public health policymakers and many major news outlets worldwide. Because of her expertise and leadership, Gardner was one of six Johns Hopkins experts who briefed the congressional staff about the outbreak during a Capitol Hill event in early March 2020, and in September was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020. Prior to COVID, Gardner led various interdisciplinary research projects which utilize network optimization, big data, and mathematical modeling to progress the state of the art in global epidemiological risk assessment. Her work focuses holistically on virus diffusion as a function of climate, land use, mobility, and other contributing risk factors. On these topics, Gardner has received research funding from organizations including NIH, NSF, NASA, and the CDC. For more information, please see the CSSE website.

Friday, April 22

8:15 – 9:15 am

Plenary Program and Keynote

Building the Future: Engineering Climate Action

The decisions we make as structural engineers today shape the future. As professionals tasked to protect and advance the health, safety, and welfare of the public through the practice of civil/structural Engineering we must critically evaluate our role in contributing to and responsibility to help solve the climate crisis. Structural engineers can and are making a difference in practice today. Future innovations show promise for regenerative impact. Join this dynamic interactive session and explore your next action to be part of building climate-responsive solutions.

Kate SimeonKate Simonen, AIA, SE is the founding director of the Carbon Leadership Forum and Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington. Connecting significant professional experience in high-performance building design and technical expertise in environmental life cycle assessment she works to spur collective action to bring net embodied carbon to zero through cutting-edge research, cross-sector collaboration, and the incubation of new approaches. Kate directs the research of the Carbon Leadership Forum and convenes collaborative initiatives such as the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (the EC3 tool) and the Structural Engineers 2050 Challenge. Under her leadership, the Carbon Leadership Forum has to become globally recognized for embodied carbon data, methods, and policy leadership as well as inspiring and empowering collective action through the online and in-person communities.

Saturday, April 23

11:30 am – 1:45 pm

Closing Plenary Luncheon, Keynote, and Awards

Disrupting the Industry: 3D Printing and the Future of Homebuilding on Earth and on Other Worlds

Join Melodie Yashar, Director of Building Design and Building Performance at ICON, the leader in advanced construction technologies, to discuss the impact of 3D printing on the future of homebuilding. Melodie will highlight ICON's robotics, material optimization, and logistics of construction with its 3D printing technologies and its ability to deliver affordable, disaster-relief, and mainstream home construction projects. She will also discuss building performance, structural engineering, and achieving building code approvals for 3D-printed structures, plus give a glimpse into the future of home building on the Moon and Mars.

Melodie YasharPrior to ICON, Melodie was a Senior Associate Researcher in human factors with San Jose State University Research Foundation at NASA Ames, a co-founder of Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch+), a group developing human-supporting concepts for space exploration, as well as a professor of design at Pratt Institute and Art Center College of Design. As a cofounder of SEArch+, Melodie collaborated with ICON on design schematics for a permanent Lunar base for Project Olympus. Melodie has worked as a design architect at Locatelli Partners, Pentagram, AvroKo, and Studio Geiger Architecture & Design.

Melodie obtained a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University and a Master of Human-Computer Interaction degree from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. As an undergraduate Melodie studied Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design and Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. Melodie was a leader and member in teams that won first prize in both of NASA’s design solicitations for 3D-printed Habitats: in Phase 1 for “Mars Ice House” and in Phase 3 for “Mars X-House.” Melodie is a 2019-2020 Future Space Leaders fellow.

Melodie is of Iranian heritage and geeks out on new material & fabrication technologies. She likes tiny robots. She would like to visit the Moon (though not yet Mars) in her lifetime.

jump to top