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Karen Marais

Karen Marais

2009 - Associate Professor


B.Eng. University of Stellenbosch, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 1994
B.Sc. University of South Africa, Mathematics, 1997
S.M. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aerospace Engineering, 2001
Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aerospace Engineering, 2005


701 W. Stadium Ave.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2045

Office: ARMS 3325
Office Phone: +1 765 49-40063


Safety and Risk Analysis
Systems Engineering Education
Financial Modeling of Engineering Systems
Environmental Impacts of Technology

Research Areas

My research is multi-disciplinary in nature, spanning traditional engineering disciplines such as reliability, maintainability, and risk analysis, and extending to engineering economics (e.g., environmental impact of aviation and policy choices and implications) and organizational behavior (in particular in regard to system safety). The fundamental aim of my research is to guide better engineering decisions in system design and operation. To that end I perform research in three general areas:
System Safety and Risk Analysis
In this work, I investigate new ways of addressing the safety and risk challenges posed by complex systems. I am currently investigating the application of techniques from control theory and digital signal processing to risk analysis.
Value-Centric System Design and Operation
In this work, I investigate system design and operation from the perspective of design impact on value. For example, recently my co-authors and I investigated the impact of reliability on system value and used our analysis to develop a method to identify optimal reliability levels that maximize system value delivery over time. I am now extending this perspective to system maintenance (an area with significant growth potential) and adapting this work to the civil aviation industry.
Civil Aviation Policy
In this work, I investigate various aspects of civil aviation policy. I focus on two areas. First, technology is seen as one of the primary enablers of increased air traffic over the next two decades. However, airlines and general aviation users are often reluctant to adopt new technologies. Using a value-centric approach I developed a framework that can be used to identify and address the causes of adoption reluctance and so increase the likelihood of successful technology transitions.
Second, the impact of aviation on the environment is receiving increasing attention. However, aviation environmental policies are usually evaluated in isolation or on a cost-effectiveness basis. Such evaluations do not take into account the complex interdependencies between aviation environmental effects (e.g., quieter engines may be heavier and therefore increase fuel consumption). Here, again, a value-centric perspective that takes into account both the benefits and costs of aviation can allow better policy decisions.


Fala, N., Uday, P., Le, T.L., and Marais, K., "Surface Performance of End-around Taxiways", Air Traffic Control Quarterly, Volume 22, Issue 4, 327-351, 2014. [This paper was accepted for publication in June 2015. This journal ran behind with issue assignments and this Issue was only published in October 2015].
Sheng, H., Landry, S., and Marais, K. “Assessment of Stratospheric Fuel Burn by Civil Commercial Aviation”, Transportation Research, Part D, Volume 34, pg. 1-15, January 2015.

Saleh, J.H., Marais, K., Favaro, F.M., "A Synthesis of System Safety Principles: Multidisciplinary Engineering Perspectives," Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, April 2014, 29: 283-294.

Karen Marais. "Value maximizing maintenance policies under general repair", Reliability Engineering & System Safety, Volume 119, November 2013, Pages 76-87.

Karen Marais, Tom G. Reynolds, Payuna Uday, Delri Muller, Jonathan Lovegren, Jean-Marie Dumont & R. John Hansman, "Evaluation of Potential Near-Term Operational Changes to Mitigate Environmental Impacts of Aviation," Journal of Aerospace Engineering, 227:8, August 2013.

Karen Marais and Matthew Robichaud, "Analysis of Trends in Aviation Maintenance Risk: An Empirical Approach," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 106: 104-118, October 2012.

Saleh Joseph H., Marais Karen , Bakolas, E., Cowlagi, R.V., “Highlights from the literature on system safety and accident causation: Review of major ideas, recent contributions, and challenges”, Reliability Engineering and System Safety, Volume: 95, Issue: 11, Pages: 1105-1116, November 2010.

Hoepfer, Vitus M., Saleh, Joseph H., and Marais, Karen, "On the value of redundancy subject to common-cause failures: Toward the resolution of an on-going debate," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, Volume 94, Issue 12, December 2009, Pages 1904-1916.

Marais, Karen and Waitz, Ian A., “Aviation and the Environment,” in The Global Airline Industry, Eds. Amadeo Odoni et al., Wiley Blackwell, United Kingdom, April 2009.

Leveson, Nancy, Dulac, Nicolas, Marais, Karen, and Carroll, John, "Moving Beyond Normal Accidents and High Reliability Organizations: A Systems Approach to Safety in Complex Systems," Organization Studies, 30(2&3): 91-13, March 2009.

Marais, Karen, Saleh, Joseph H., "Beyond its cost, the value of maintenance: An analytical framework for capturing its Net Present Value," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, February 2009, 94(2): 644-657.

Marais, Karen and Saleh, Joseph H., "Conceptualizing and communicating organizational risk dynamics in the Thoroughness-Efficiency Space," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 93(11):1710-1719, November 2008.

Marais, Karen, Lukachko, Stephen, Jun, Mina, Mahashabde, Anuja, and Waitz, Ian A., "Assessing the Impact of Aviation on Climate", Meteorologische Zeitschrif, 17(2):157-172 April 2008.

Marais, Karen, Saleh, Joseph H. and Leveson, Nancy G., "Archetypes for Organizational Safety," Safety Science, 44(7):565-582, August 2006.

Saleh, Joseph H. and Marais, Karen, "Reliability: How Much is it Worth? Beyond its Estimation or Prediction, the (Net) Present Value of Reliability," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 91( 6):665-673, 2006.

Saleh, Joseph and Marais, Karen, "Highlights from the Early (and Pre-) History of Reliability Engineering," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 91( 2):249-256, 2006.

Leveson, Nancy G., Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Joel, Carroll, John S., Barrett, Betty, Marais, Karen et al., "Systems Approaches to Safety: NASA and the Space Shuttle Disasters," in Organization at the Limit: Lessons from the Columbia Disaster, Eds. William Starbuck and Moshe Farjoun, Blackwell Publishing, USA, 2005.

Conference Proceedings, Presentations, Invited Lectures

Rao, A. H. and Marais, K., “Identifying High-Risk Occurrence Chains in Helicopter Operations from Accident Data”, Aviation 2015, June 2015, AIAA, Dallas, TX.

Goblet, V., Fala, N. and Marais, K., “Identification of Phases of Flight in General Aviation Operations”, Aviation 2015, June 2015, AIAA, Dallas, TX.

Uday, P., and Marais, K., “Resilience-based System Importance Measures for System-of-Systems”, Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER), 21-22 March 2014, Redondo Beach, CA.

Khadabadi,M.A., and Marais, K.," Value Centric approaches to the Design, Operations and Maintenance of Wind Turbines",ASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Conference and Exposition, 13-21 November, 2013, San Diego, CA.

Tiffany Le; Karen Marais, Optimization of End-Around Taxiway for Efficient Operations and Environmental Benefits, Aviation 2013, Los Angeles.

Sarah Arnac; Karen Marais; Seth Kreissler; Mark Skoog; David Sizoo, “Considerations for Developing the Individual Collision Avoidance System (iCAS)”, Aviation 2013, Los Angeles.

K. B. Marais, J. Rivas, I. J. Tetzloff, and W. A. Crossley, "Modeling the Impact of Maintenance on Naval Fleet Total Ownership Cost." Proc. of 2013 IEEE International Systems Conference, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Orlando, FL.

Uday, P., and Marais, K., “Exploiting Stand-In Redundancy to Improve Resilience in a System-of-Systems (SoS)”, Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER), 19-22 March, 2013, Atlanta, GA.

Uday, P., and Marais, K., “System Re-tasking to Achieve Resilience in a System-of-Systems (SoS)”, 15th Annual Systems Engineering Conference, National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), 22-25 October, 2012, San Diego, CA. (presentation only)

S. Y. Han, K. Marais, and D. DeLaurentis, "Evaluating System of Systems Resilience using Interdependency Analysis," IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Seoul, South Korea, October 14-17, 2012.

Baik, H and Marais, K, A Portfolio Evaluation Framework for Air Transportation Improvement Projects, 11th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference, Virginia Beach, VA, 20-22 September 2011.

Delri Muller et al., “Evaluation of Trends and Potential Environmental Benefits of RNAV/RNP Procedures”, 11th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference, Virginia Beach, VA, 20-22 September 2011.

Payuna Uday et al., “Environmental Benefits of End-Around Taxiway Operations”, 11th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference, Virginia Beach, VA, 20-22 September 2011.

Landry, SJ and Marais K, Environmental Implications of Allocating Delay to Aircraft at High vs. Low Altitude, IERC 2011.

Robichaud, M.R.; Arnac, S.R. ;Marais, K.B., The impact of maintenance on passenger airline safety, European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2010), Rhodes, Greece, September 2010.

Reynolds, T. G., Marais, K. B., Muller, D., Uday, P., Lovegren, J., Hansman, J. R. Evaluation of Potential Near-term Operational Changes to Mitigate Environmental Impacts of Aviation. 27th ICAS Conference, Nice, France, September 2010.

Karen Marais and Joseph Saleh, "System Value Trajectories, Maintenance, and its Present Value," ESREL 2008, Valencia, 22-25 September 2008.

Cornie Scheffer, Karen Marais and Riaan Meyer, "Increasing Resource Efficiency in Construction and Mining," PTK 2007, Berlin, October 2007.

Aleksandra L. Mozdzanowska , Roland E. Weibel , Edward Lester , R. John Hansman , Annalisa Weigel, and Karen Marais, "Dynamics of Air Transportation System Transition and Implications for ADS-B Equipage," 7th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration and Operations Conference (ATIO), Belfast, 18-20 September 2007.

Marais, Karen, Saleh, Joseph H., Leveson, Nancy G., "Organizational Risk Dynamics in Complex Goal Environments," Proceedings of ESREL 2007, Norway, June 2007.

Marais, Karen and Weigel, Annalisa L., "Encouraging and Ensuring Successful Technology Transition in Civil Aviation," 25th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, Portland, Oregon, October 2006. Best paper in session.

Marais, Karen and Leveson, Nancy G., "Archetypes for Organizational Safety," International Workshop on Investigation and Reporting of Accidents, Williamsburg , VA, September 19-23, 2003.

Marais, Karen, Dulac, Nicolas, and Leveson, Nancy, G., "Beyond Normal Accidents and High Reliability Organizations: Lessons from the Space Shuttle," ESD External Symposium, Cambridge, MA, March 2004.

Leveson, Nancy G., Marais, Karen, et al., "A Systems-Theoretic Approach to Safety Engineering: A Case Study Monograph of the Engineering Systems Division Symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology," March 2004.

Neogi, Natasha A., Marais, Karen, Leveson, Nancy G., "A Comparison of Discrete and Hybrid Models of an Aircraft Conflict Detection Algorithm," 21st Digital Avionics Systems Conference, 2002.

Saleh, Joseph H., Marais, Karen S., Hastings, Daniel E. and Newman, Dava J., "The Case for Flexibility in System Design," Proceedings of the INCOSE 2002 International Symposium, Las Vegas, NV, August 2002.

Marais, Karen and Sedwick, Raymond J., "Space Based GMTI Using Scanned Pattern Interferometric Radar (SPIR)," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Montana, March 2001.

Marais, Karen and Sedwick, Raymond J. , "Cluster Design for Scanned Pattern Interferometric Radar (SPIR)," AIAA-2001-4654, AIAA Space 2001 - Conference and Exposition, Albuquerque, NM, Aug. 28-30, 2001.

Sedwick, Raymond J., Hacker, Troy L., Marais, Karen, "Performance Analysis for an Interferometric Space-Based GMTI Radar System," The Record of the IEEE 2000 International Radar Conference 2000, 7-12 May 2000, pp. 689–694.