Louisiana Tech shares in $20 million grant to establish Louisiana Materials Design Alliance

May 27, 2020 | Engineering and Science, Faculty/Staff, General News, Innovation, Research

Louisiana Tech University will receive $3.517 million of a five-year, $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the Louisiana Materials Design Alliance (LAMDA) and transform research and education in advanced manufacturing and materials throughout the State. Besides Tech, Louisiana State University, Southern University, Tulane University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are involved in the project.

LAMDA researchers will design complex alloys and polymers specifically for use in additive manufacturing, which includes the 3D printing technologies. Louisiana researchers will use machine learning, data mining, and artificial intelligence to design application-specific characteristics into novel materials, such as strength, fatigue life, and response to heat and pressure.

Dr. Arden Moore, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is the leader of the 10-member Louisiana Tech team.

“The team of researchers from Louisiana Tech will be vital in LAMDA achieving its scientific and technological goals as well as its mission to maximize beneficial broader impacts for Louisiana,” Moore said. “We have been working collaboratively with others from around the state for almost a year to shape LAMDA’s vision and put together a winning program. It is very exciting that we will now make that vision a reality and be able to train and educate Louisiana Tech students in such cutting-edge technologies.”

The team includes Dr. Jinyuan Chen, Dr. Ben Drozdenko, Dr. Arun Jaganathan, Dr. Michele Maasberg, Dr. Kasra Momeni, Dr. Erica Murray, Dr. Andrew Peters, Dr. Ramu Ramachandran, and Dr. Collin Wick. The 10 researchers on the Tech team represent six disciplines within the College of Engineering and Science.

LAMDA leverages previous NSF investments in advanced manufacturing and materials as well as the state’s investments in cyberinfrastructure and human resources. LAMDA will lay the foundation for smart additive manufacturing process monitoring and create new knowledge linking complex materials structures to their mechanical and functional performance.

“LAMDA’s research program is aimed at overcoming some of the major challenges in additive manufacturing technologies, which will have a very positive impact on the manufacturing competitiveness of Louisiana and the nation,” said Ramachandran, Director of Tech’s Institute for Micromanufacturing, Associate Vice President for Research, and Dean of the Graduate School.

“This project is an excellent example of research addressing key knowledge gaps in an area of focus for the nation,” said NSF Established Program to Stimulate Collaborative Research (EPSCoR) director Ann Stapleton. “The team’s research on improved prediction of material performance in additive manufacturing will be fully integrated with coursework, testbed development and workforce development activities. The team will receive extensive feedback from key industry leaders. This project is a superb example of synergistic, inter-related research and educational activities that support a larger national scientific priority area.”

“The manufacturing industry plays a critical role in both state and national economies, and 3D printing will help take it to the next level,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “This funding will help educate university students and better equip Louisiana’s workforce.”

“We are delighted that NSF has recognized the immense value of the collaborative work of researchers across Louisiana institutions, public and private, around cutting-edge manufacturing,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “The project’s dual emphasis on research and education ensures the broadest possible reach of the work, as we develop the knowledge needed by industry users as well as the talent needed to support widespread adoption.”

“We believe NSF’s announcement of funding for LAMDA will be a game-changer for our state, fueling industry innovation as we look to the post-COVID era and expand our manufacturing capacity and capabilities,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards.  “Louisiana looks forward to leading the science, education, and training efforts to build manufacturing for the 21st century, and we are grateful that this investment will accelerate our work.”

“This five-year initiative will propel the state to a leadership role in additive manufacturing materials research and education in the United States, building a bridge between researchers developing materials and efficient manufacturing methods and small and large end-users in industry scaling up 3D printing technologies to bring products to the marketplace,” said Michael Khonsari, Board of Regents’ Associate Commissioner for Research and Louisiana EPSCoR Project Director.

The major outcomes of the LAMDA project will be a materials design framework guided by machine learning, a framework to assess structural integrity, and a diverse and highly skilled Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce for Louisiana.