Fiat ARL at Alfred University

Dear Alfred University students, staff, and faculty:

Alfred University had been awarded a $13.5 million federal contract to support a joint project with the U.S. Army to conduct advanced manufacturing and characterization research of high temperature materials. The contract provides $2.7 million per year for five years, from 2022-27, to fund joint research between Alfred University and DEVCOM (U.S. Army Capabilities Development Command), Army Research Laboratory (ARL).

Research will focus on improving the performance of ceramic materials used in weapons (i.e., cruise missiles), which must be able to withstand the extreme temperatures that result from traveling at hypersonic speeds. Due to their high-temperature performance, toughness, and light weight, ceramic materials are a necessary component of hypersonic weapons systems.

Gabrielle Gaustad ’04, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering, in partnership with key faculty and support from the team at the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology, led efforts to identify top research priorities with the ARL and design the scope of work for this project.

Scott Misture ’90, Ph.D. ‘95, Inamori Professor, materials science and engineering, will serve as principal investigator. Other participating faculty include S.K. Sundaram, Inamori Professor, materials science and engineering; Holly Shulman ‘87, professor of ceramic engineering; Junjun Ding, assistant professor, materials science and engineering; Yiquan Wu, Inamori Professor, ceramic engineering; Kun Wang, assistant professor, materials science and engineering; and Junpeng Zhan, assistant professor, renewable energy engineering.

Undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to participate in the research funded under this contract. 

Much of the research will be conducted in the Center for High Temperature Characterization (CHTC) at Alfred University. Currently lacking in most hypersonic materials research is the ability to examine the materials during processing/sintering or post-sintering at high temperatures under simulated operational environments. The CHTC—which was completed in 2014 with $4 million in state funding and has the equipment needed to investigate the physical, microstructural, and chemical changes of hypersonic materials at various temperatures and under controlled atmospheres—played a significant role in Alfred University receiving the $13.5 million contract.

Alfred University has been deeply involved in the field of materials for high-performance aviation for many decades. From glass strengthening to withstand bird strikes to magnetic ceramics for microwave communication, our University has long been a valuable, leading-edge collaborator with the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In the 1980s, for example, researchers at Alfred University helped develop heat-resistant materials used in external tiles on the Space Shuttle.

John Simmins ’84, Ph.D. ’90, executive director of the Center for Advanced
Ceramic Technology (CACT) at Alfred University, holds a tile made from
heat-resistant ceramic material used on the Space Shuttle. Researchers at
Alfred University developed the material in the 1980s.

Please join me in expressing appreciation to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who played a significant role in Alfred University being awarded the ARL contract. Please also join me in congratulating the faculty, staff, and leadership of our Inamori School of Engineering for their work in developing the successful contract proposal, the largest federal research grant ever received by Alfred University.

Fiat ARL at Alfred University!