UConn receives $8 million for Air Force research lab

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The University of Connecticut received an $8 million contract to continue their research lab with the Air Force, aimed at improving aerospace manufacturing processes, according to a UConn press release.

The project began in 2018, but because of the progress made over the last two years, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) extended the funding through 2023.  

The project’s team will use smart manufacturing techniques, thermomechanical testing and characterization in extreme environments and systems engineering concepts to evaluate the systems and materials currently being used in aerospace production.   

In the past three years, the team was already able to identify uncertainties which could lead to defective parts, and created methods to prevent them. According to the press release, the expanded research team will now include systems engineering approaches, looking at the manufacturing process in a more holistic view.  

“This is wonderful news for the UConn Tech Park and our researchers,” UConn President Thomas Katsouleas said. “It’s a concrete demonstration of the value UConn brings to our industry partners, to our state and to the greater pursuit of knowledge. I’m looking forward to the success generated by this research, and to many more in the future.”   

Pamir Alpay, the lead on the project, said the idea of the project is to assess the complete manufacturing cycle of a high-value added aerospace component.  

“Our main objective is to provide transformative capabilities for manufacturing technologies to the AFRL, equipment manufacturers and the supply chain to reduce scrap rates, increase yield and performance and cut down failures,” Alpay said, who is also the executive director of the Innovation Partnership Building at UConn.   

UConn has received an $8 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to continue productive research aimed at improving aerospace manufacturing processes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)

The researchers will use smart manufacturing that can provide more accurate analyses of systems, a concept known as Industry 4.0. This project is working not only with the Air Force, but also with the university’s industry partners including Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky Aircraft.   

This project will support 16 UConn faculty, 21 graduate students and one postdoctoral researcher, according to the press release.   

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy spoke highly of the accomplishments of the UConn team so far, and said he hopes to see more projects like this in the future.   

“The faculty, students and staff at UConn are working every day to discover cutting-edge breakthroughs in aerospace that can lower costs to the taxpayer and help keep our country safe,” Murphy said. “The University of Connecticut received an $8 million contract to continue their research lab with the Air Force, aimed at improving aerospace manufacturing processes, according to a UConn press release.”   

This applause was echoed by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who said he will continue to advocate for UConn’s impactful and innovative research programs.  

“Connecticut continues to be a leader in aerospace manufacturing, from development to design to producing the best products,” Blumenthal said. “This federal funding for research to enhance the safety and durability of aerospace components is a testament to the strength and impact of the research programs offered by the university.”   

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