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UT, UK announced $50 million manufacturing project for Army

The University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky and the U.S. Army will pursue a $50 million project aimed at advanced manufacturing to develop advanced military equipment.
The University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky and the U.S. Army will pursue a $50...
The University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky and the U.S. Army will pursue a $50 million project aimed at advanced manufacturing to develop advanced military equipment.(WVLT)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 7:05 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the University of Kentucky and the U.S. Army announced a new five-year, $50 million advanced manufacturing project aimed at developing military equipment.

The project will focus on improving material and manufacturing methods that will be aimed at significantly advancing capabilities of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory, including developing vehicles, increasing long-range arsenal distance and exploring designs for vertical lift vehicles.

“UT is at the forefront of advanced materials and manufacturing research and expertise,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “Collaborating on a significant project for the Army is just one way our flagship land-grant institution is contributing to the economic prosperity of the state and safety of our nation. I know our faculty and students on our campus in Knoxville, and at the UT Space Institute in Tullahoma, are excited to use their knowledge and work to make a lasting impact in our local communities and our country. We appreciate Senator Marsha Blackburn’s leadership in sponsoring this important work.”

Military capabilities will not be enhanced but the project will contribute to civilian applications and workforce training will promote economic development, including aerospace, automotive manufacturing and energy production.

“Thanks to continued support from Senator Marsha Blackburn, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is continuing to compete for and contribute to significant areas of advanced materials and manufacturing research – work to support our military and support national security,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “These kinds of partnerships with universities and corporations across the nation are of the utmost importance for top research universities like UT.”

UT’s contribution will draw on expertise across multiple colleges and departments, officials said.

UT will be working on three areas of focus: hybrid manufacturing methods that combine additive techniques and machining, measurements using advanced metrology approaches, and new materials processing techniques for metals, polymers, ceramics and composites.

The separate projects that the team will be working on include: producing a new metallic hybrid material that will be stronger, lighter, and more durable than traditional materials, integrating advanced manufacturing methods to help improve the speed of production processes and drive down costs, exploring flash processing of steel with novel properties to create structurally sound materials that both weigh and cost less, researching the machining and surface finishing of materials produced through advanced manufacturing to create a more refined and precise final product, developing more durable high-performing metals for unmanned aerial vehicles and developing new materials for hypersonics.

The project will be led by Senior Director for Space and Defense Programs Bruce LaMattina. Additional faculty members are working on the project:

  • Suresh Babu, UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing and Director of the UT–ORNL Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education
  • Uday Vaidya, UT–ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Composites Manufacturing
  • Lino Costa, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering
  • Mark Dadmun, Professor in the Department of Chemistry
  • Eric Lass, Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Trevor Moeller, Jack D. Whitfield Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering
  • Orlando Rios, Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Tony Schmitz, Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering

“Being able to provide research and open new avenues of discovery in ways that impact our national security is a challenge that we take with great pride and honor,” said Matthew Mench, Dean and Wayne T. Davis Dean’s Chair of UT’s Tickle College of Engineering. “Having the ability to create a team that draws upon expertise from across our university is a testament to the work we’re already doing and a solid foundation for what we hope to accomplish.”

UT and UK will develop and test hybrid metals to find different properties, officials said.

UK researchers will be working on smart sustainable hybrid manufacturing processes.

The Army will collaborate across academia, industry leaders and the workforce to make advancements.

“This is a momentous collaborative research effort among two flagship universities, regional industries, and the Army Research Laboratory,” said Jian Yu, the ARL cooperative agreement manager for UT. “Unlike other governmental grants, this program offers a fast track for new technology development and transition to the Army applications, executing the Army Future Command’s modernization vision. At the same time, the program also develops the next generation of the civil workforce for advanced manufacturing in the Tennessee Valley region.”

According to officials, the project will help secure the nation and the economic future of its citizens, in short.

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