Auburn University, Alabama, USA, has been awarded a $50 million grant for a three-year project with the US Army. The grant represents the single largest prime research contract ever awarded to Auburn University, and is designed to help the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center boost its modernisation efforts.
The project – titled ‘Lightweight, Advanced Manufacturing of Metallic, Polymer, and Composite Structures for Aviation and Missile Weapon Systems’ – will be managed by the Auburn University Applied Research Institute (AUARI) in Huntsville, Alabama. The project will rely heavily on the research expertise of Auburn’s National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME) and the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems (ICAMS).
THE WORLD OF METAL AM TO YOUR INBOX
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
“Our main objective is to enable the army to incorporate advanced manufacturing materials and methods into existing and future aviation and missile systems,” stated Robert Dowling, AUARI director of research development. “To do that, we’ll develop prototype advanced manufacturing processes required to analyse, design, develop, test, integrate and sustain qualified components for existing and future aviation and missile systems. The advanced manufacturing materials we’re considering include alloys, polymers and composites. The methods will include everything from machine learning to material properties characterisation.”
$9.3 million of the award has already been allocated for the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (NCAME). This funding will be used to support NCAME’s research into the materials, parts, and processes necessary for advancing the use of Additive Manufacturing in army operations.
“While existing and future aviation and missile systems will be the direct beneficiaries of the project, successful results may be transferable to other government advanced manufacturing projects,” Dowling said. “A lot of effort has gone into developing this opportunity. We’re excited to get to work.”
Steve Taylor, Auburn University’s senior vice president for research and economic development, added, “It goes without saying, but this is a significant accomplishment for Auburn’s research enterprise and our Applied Research Institute. But it also speaks volumes about how our army partners in Huntsville, and beyond, are placing significant value on Auburn’s work in advanced manufacturing, which is a key research focus area for our Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. To say it’s paying off is an understatement.”
“With this award, we’ve demonstrated the significant opportunities that can be created for faculty and students when we combine our core research expertise with customer proximity and knowledge,” Dowling added. “AUARI’s proximity to Redstone Arsenal and familiarity with Army customers and missions enabled the AUARI team to develop a highly responsive proposal representing a broad spectrum of Auburn’s research capabilities both on-campus and in Huntsville.”
Taylor concluded, “President Roberts’ vision for Auburn is built around dreaming bigger, being bolder and pushing our research endeavours to the next level. This historic award does exactly that.”