VICKSBURG, Miss. (Oct. 16, 2020) ⸺ The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced a new partnership with the University of Georgia (UGA) to establish the Network for Engineering With Nature (N-EWN). N-EWN was developed to accelerate delivery of nature-based solutions and natural infrastructure in the public and private sectors.
N-EWN connects the USACE Engineering With Nature® (EWN®) Initiative with UGA’s Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems (IRIS). "This is a critical time for investment in our nation’s infrastructure, and N-EWN will be a valuable lever for advancing practice in the 21st century,” said Dr. Todd Bridges, EWN national lead. “The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center is proud to be partnering with UGA in this powerful research collaboration."
USACE presented a $2.5 million award to UGA to establish the collaborative network, which will be a clearinghouse for tools, products and outreach for researchers and practitioners from both organizations working on nature-based solutions and natural infrastructure projects. Additionally, the partnership seeks to expand N-EWN by inviting other academic institutions, federal agencies and private industry partners to join the network.
USACE developed the EWN Initiative to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental and social benefits through the use of natural systems. By using a combination of natural and conventional processes and materials, natural infrastructure can protect people, homes and habitats. Nature-based solutions can take many forms and scales, including sand dunes engineered to attenuate storm surge and waves, floodplains along rivers that allow the rivers to ebb and flow while reducing flood risks to communities and wetlands that filter out pollution and provide habitat, among many other examples.
The collaboration is beginning with 14 USACE researchers ⸺ led by Bridges and Dr. Jeffrey King, EWN deputy national lead ⸺ providing their knowledge and experience to the network, while 16 UGA researchers from 10 different colleges and departments apply their expertise to the acceleration of EWN. The project leader for UGA is principal investigator Dr. Brian Bledsoe, a professor in the College of Engineering, and director of the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems. The N-EWN partnership will also draw from the expertise of the UGA’s River Basin Center and Center for Integrative Conservation Research.
In an ambitious set of pilot projects, the network’s researchers will advance methods for using natural infrastructure to strengthen community resilience, create models and dashboards that allow designers to map out how natural infrastructure can provide more benefits to society and inspire and empower a new generation of engineers, ecologists and social scientists to implement nature-based solutions through education and workforce development.
“We’re excited by this opportunity to partner with USACE,” Bledsoe said. “Both UGA and USACE bring many assets to N-EWN, and I’m looking forward to seeing this approach to infrastructure flourish.”
The public is invited to follow #N-EWN on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where updates on the individual projects, researcher profiles and exciting innovations in the field will be posted. Alternatively, the N-EWN website can be visited at n-ewn.org the EWN Initiative at engineeringwithnature.org and the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems at iris.uga.edu