2021 Tillman Scholar

Bryan Watson

Georgia Institute of Technology

“In 2003, a power outage in New York city caused over 90 deaths. The cause of the outage was traced back to a tree limb touching a power line in Ohio. I study how engineering can protect people from cascading disasters.”

After growing up watching the midshipman playing football, Bryan dreamed of attending the Naval Academy. While at the Naval Academy, he majored in systems engineering and competed in the Micro League of the International RoboCup. After graduating in 2009, Bryan joined the nuclear Navy, serving onboard the U.S.S Louisville and in the naval prototype training unit over 8 years. While serving, Bryan developed a deep appreciation of the role that mentorship plays in the lives and success of teammates. He was also inspired by witnessing the impact that complex systems (fleets, weather, port infrastructure) have on individuals and the impact individuals have on the performance of complex systems.

Following his transition from active duty, Bryan began pursuing a  Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bryan’s work began at the Computation and Advancement of Sustainable Systems Lab where his master’s thesis developed a new method for distributed system demand estimation. Bryan was named a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and this allowed him to focus his research on examining the relationship between people and systems that he observed in the Navy. He focuses on methods of improving the resilience of systems-of-systems in the Sustainable Design and Manufacturing lab. His long-term goal is to establish a career as a research professor where he can mentor veterans returning to school and where his methods of systems-of-system design can help make the world a more resilient and sustainable place.