Virginia Tech receives Department of Defense instrumentation awards

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 6, 2004 – The Department of Defense announced plans to award $43.5 million to academic institutions to support the purchase of research instrumentation. Four of the 213 awards to 92 academic institutions will come to Virginia Tech.

The awards, being made under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), meet a critical need by enabling university researchers to purchase scientific equipment costing $50,000 or more to conduct Department of Defense-relevant research.

The awards are the result of a merit competition for DURIP funding conducted by the Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The research offices collectively received 1,025 proposals, requesting $273 million in support for research equipment.

Virginia Tech recipients are:

Romesh Batra, the Clifton C Garvin Professor in engineering science and mechanics in the College of Engineering. She requested $146,692 to upgrade a parallel computer acquired with an earlier DURIP grant. The computer will be housed in the ESM Computational Mechanics Laboratory. The grant will be used to upgrade the six-processor machine acquired with an earlier DURIP grant to a 12-processor SGI machine. Batra said the parallel computer will be used to design nanocomposites with carbon nanotubes as reinforcements, body armor for soldiers, blast-resistant sandwich structures for marine applications, multifunctional energetic materials for the Air Force, armor and anti-armor components for the Army, and optimize a non-autoclave process for manufacturing composites for NASA.

William Devenport, professor of aerospace and ocean engineering, and Ricardo Burdisso, professor of mechanical engineering, both in the College of Engineering. They will use the approximately $250,000 research instrumentation grant from the Office of Naval Research to install modifications of the Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel that will enable it to be used for measurements of sound produced by air flow. The novel anechoic system will enable the researchers to test components of wind turbines, aircraft, and submarines, for instance, to measure the noise they produce. "We are upgrading the stability wind tunnel to an anechoic wind tunnel," Devenport said. "If successful, it will be the largest anechoic wind tunnel in the United States."

Jack Lesko, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics in the College of Engineering, and Tim Long, professor of chemistry, in the College of Science. They will use the approximately $103,000 DIRPA award for equipment to provide inputs, such as measurements, to computer simulations or models that describe how a composite material structure will respond to fire. "The new instrumentation will provide us with the constants that describe how the material properties change as a function of temperature," Lesko said. "This equipment will enhance our capabilities to perform on the nearly $500,000 program we have ongoing with ONR and NSWC (the Naval Surface Warfare Center)."

The fourth grant will be used within the ARO Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) at Virginia Tech. The Army Research Office will provide nearly $85,000 for the acquisition of light scattering instrumentation, which permits the determination of aggregation and size of molecules in solution, explained Long. "This tool will enable us to visualize molecules at the nanometer dimension and allow us to more carefully tailor macromolecules for nanotechnology. The instrument will expose a solution to light and the interaction of the light with the solution will provide molecular dimension information. This is a much needed instrumentation at Virginia Tech," said Long, principal investigator of the MURI.

All awards are subject to the successful completion of negotiations between the Department of Defense research offices and the academic institutions. The complete list of winning researchers can be found at: 2004/d20040318.pdf.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.