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Hypersonics consortium gets $6M from DoD for research and workforce development


By David Schwartz
Published: October 12th, 2021

The U.S. government is ramping up funding for hypersonics research, earmarking nearly $4 billion in the 2022 budget and betting that academic research can help usher game-changing national security technologies into real-world use. But developing vehicles capable of traveling at over a mile per second – with vehicle surface temperatures up to 2,200 degrees Celsius — presents daunting engineering challenges for hypersonics materials and systems.

To address these hurdles, the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH) has tapped the Georgia Institute of Technology and key academic partners for four grants valued at $6 million over the next three years. The awards will fund research drawing on Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) expertise in high-temperature materials science and aerospace and mechanical engineering.

The UCAH, led by Texas A&M University, is a $100 million program initiated in 2020 by the Department of Defense that has more than 80 university and lab members, along with dozens of corporate affiliate members.

“Hypersonics research is a big area of focus for Georgia Tech. It’s an area where the College of Engineering and GTRI can really collaborate and build upon GTRI’s strong foundation to be a real force in hypersonics,” said Devesh Ranjan, co-director of UCAH.

Ranjan, who also co-chairs the Hypersonics Taskforce at Georgia Tech, says the UCAH grants will serve several purposes:

  • Helping build the future workforce of highly skilled researchers in hypersonics;
  • Enabling technology transfer of key research into industry;
  • Applying high-temperature material advances in new fields, whether it be better power plant materials, higher efficiency sensors, or new propulsion systems that could enable commercial planes to fly from Los Angeles to New York City in only 15 minutes.

Georgia Tech expects to engage a broad community of undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students to tackle these projects, and the three-year research program will enable engineering faculty to co-advise graduate students.

“The UCAH workforce development goal to attract the next generation of scientists and engineers is important and a high priority for us,” said Kenneth Allen, chief scientist for GTRI’s Advanced Concepts Laboratory.

“Workforce development is one of the key reasons we are doing this consortium,” added Gillian Bussey, director of the Department of Defense’s Joint Hypersonics Transition Office (JHTO), which funded the awards.

“We’re focused on applied hypersonics, which is why we ask proposers to team with industry or national labs to help make their proposed projects more relevant and transitionable,” Bussey said. A key goal for JHTO is supporting “a university ecosystem that better understands our problems.”

Source: Georgia Tech Research

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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