College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Dela Houssou: “We need resilient infrastructure more than ever, and AI can help us create it”

Dela standing outside of the student innovation center
Dela standing outside of the student innovation center

In an increasingly variant climate, Dela Houssou says we need resilient infrastructure more than ever – and artificial intelligence can help us create it.

Houssou, senior in civil engineering, is conducting research with associate professor Alice Alipour on how to make Iowa’s power infrastructure more resilient to climate change. Due to climate change, natural disasters are becoming more common and severe. Following suit, infrastructure all around Iowa needs to be able to account for more of these dangerous and frequent storms.

“A lot of Iowa’s infrastructure is over fifty years old, and not built for the climate we have today,” Houssou said. “So in my research, we are looking at how high wind, flooding or freezing rain impact infrastructure – then we are using that information to design infrastructure that is more adaptable to this changing climate.”

Dela was invited to present his research at the Iowa State Capitol. The title of Houssou’s research is Resiliency of the Iowa Power Infrastructure under Wind Events. First, Houssou and his teammates are studying exactly how resilient Iowa’s power infrastructure already is. Then, Houssou hopes to find direct ways to build resiliency.

Studying power infrastructure lies at the heart of Houssou’s research interests. While his major is civil engineering, Houssou is passionate about artificial intelligence, too.

“I want to do work that is at the intersection of artificial intelligence and civil engineering,” Houssou said. “Civil engineering is one field that can be resistant to change, but artificial intelligence has a lot of future in what it can bring to human life. I am interested in the new opportunities we can bring to civil engineering through artificial intelligence, and one of those is how we can solve the power problem in Iowa using artificial intelligence.”

When it all comes down to it, Houssou has one overarching goal: helping humanity. And through a blend of artificial intelligence and civil engineering, Houssou believes he can make a big difference on Iowa’s community, helping humanity by solving resilience problems.

“I want to do work that helps humanity,” Houssou said. “When it comes to natural hazards, they are becoming more pronounced due to climate change. They aren’t just becoming more frequent, but the intensity at which they are happening is increasing. In my career, I hope to positively impact the lives of people through civil engineering.”