Two Engineering assistant professors secure Young Investigator Research Program grants
Two professors in the College of Engineering were grant recipients as part of the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Young Investigator Research Program.
Monique McClain, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Tyler Tallman, an assistant professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, each received three-year grants for their respective research.
The Young Investigator Research Program fosters science and engineering development for researchers in their early careers, whose research goals align with the U.S. Air Force. Purdue University has a long history of collaboration with the Air Force, hosting the Midwest Regional Research Hub of the Air Force Research Laboratory, and recently launching the Purdue Institute for National Security to empower its multiple partnerships in national defense.
McClain studies additive manufacturing, especially in specialized areas such as energetic materials. Her project is entitled “Enhanced Microstructural Control of Plastic Bonded Explosives via Additive Manufacturing.”
“Traditionally manufactured energetic materials have tiny variations in their microstructure, which are challenging to control,” said McClain, whose grant if for $450,000. “I have proposed a new manufacturing method to more precisely control the microstructure, so that the sensitivity and performance is more predictable. By characterizing the manufacturing process and relevant material science phenomena, we will gain more understanding on how such defects form and how to control them.”
It’s an advancement of the research she started as a Ph.D. student at Purdue, studying how to 3D print extremely viscous materials. Her team will conduct the research at Zucrow Labs, the largest academic propulsion lab in the world.
Tallman’s $445,000 grant supports his proposal, “Data Fusion for Self-Sensing Additively Manufactured Polymer Matrix Composite State Awareness.”
It’s critical to know when and how a structure will fail, especially under the extreme conditions facing spacecraft and military aircraft. A new class of materials can be 3D-printed with embedded sensors, but using these materials in the real world means combining the output with a variety of sensors to compute a holistic picture — a nontrivial task.
That data fusion problem is what Tallman is hoping to solve.
Tallman’s proposed research hopes to build foundational techniques that will enable further development of state awareness in additively manufactured (AM) polymer matrix composite (PMC) materials.
“The scientific heart of this work concerns creating basic knowledge on this inverse problem by understanding the role of data fusion, defining suitable optimality metrics for considerations such as sensor type and placement, and extending this conceptual framework to the specific case of AM PMCs,” Tallman said.