LSU, La. Tech Partner to Create Center for Structural Integrity

Louisiana State University and Louisiana Tech University recently announced the establishment of the Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance, the first Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for either institution.

Research, perseverance, leadership in cutting-edge science, and plain hard work toward a specific goal for more than a dozen years has led to this key partnership between Louisiana Tech University (La Tech) and Louisiana State University (LSU) that will pay off in breakthrough industry solutions and new educational advances and opportunities on both campuses.

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The Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance (CISIA) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC).

“Our faculty are excited about the establishment of this I/UCRC,” said Michael Khonsari, center director and professor in the LSU Department of Mechanical Engineering. “It has been one of our long-term strategic goals to form strong and sustainable partnerships with industry, and we are grateful to NSF for making this possible.”

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The NSF created the IUCRC program in 1973 to foster long-term partnerships among industry, universities, and government. Administrative expenses of the IUCRC’s are provided by the federal government while research activities are supported by industry members who also vote on the center’s research portfolio each year.

“This IUCRC is a distinct recognition of the excellent research conducted by Louisiana Tech faculty in collaboration with LSU,” said Dr. Les Guice, La Tech President. “Our industry partners will greatly benefit from these stronger partnerships with the researchers and talented students, and that will be great for Louisiana.”

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Failure of infrastructure and components can have economic, social and environmental consequences. In fact, the failure of aging civil infrastructure is projected to result in $4 trillion in losses to the United States GDP and 2.5 million jobs lost over the next 10 years. No currently active I/UCRC matches CISIA’S research and development capabilities, hence the importance of its establishment.

By integrating validated diagnostics, machine learning and data-driven decision making, multiscale materials testing/characterization, manufacturing process characterization and parameter optimization, and multiscale physics-based modeling/simulation, CISIA will be well positioned to translate the links between new materials, manufacturing processes, and their collective impact on reliability across all U.S. industrial sectors.

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CISIA’s research will help member industries monitor, forecast and prevent structural and mechanical failure in components and structures, both existing and those produced by advanced manufacturing techniques.

The Center will study structures both large and small. On the large side, think bridges, pipelines, freeways, and airport runways. On the small side, examples may be fasteners, ball bearings, or the extremely thin ceramic coatings often applied on machine parts — such as transmissions or cutting tools — to reduce friction, extend their useful life, and increase energy efficiency.

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“Louisiana Tech and LSU have been close partners on funded research for a long time, and this accomplishment is one more impressive outcome of the collaborations between our faculty and administrations,” said Dr. Ramu Ramachandran, La Tech’s associate vice president for research and director of the Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM). “With the support provided by the National Science Foundation, I am sure we will deliver exceptional value to our current and future industry partners in the coming years.”

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Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) and IfM will support CISIA with their intellectual capital and research facilities.

“CISIA is not only an interdisciplinary center between multiple departments and research centers on our campus, including the TTC and IfM, it is also a multi-University center, with LSU serving as our CISIA partner,” said Dr. John Matthews, TTC director and principal investigator on the most recent NSF grant. “Our team at the TTC is looking forward to meaningful collaborations with all of the academic and industry participants over the next five years of this Phase 1 grant.”

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Students at both universities will have many opportunities to get involved in driving CISIA’s research and innovation. According to the NSF, more than 2,000 students every year engage in industrially relevant research at IUCRCs nationwide, giving them on the job training for a career in the private sector. About 30 percent of these student researchers are hired by the member companies.

“This is a watershed moment enhancing our efforts to produce eminent engineers of the future, groundbreaking research, and innovative solutions that will significantly further the critical work to address failing and aging infrastructure around the country,” said Matt Lee, LSU interim executive vice president and provost. “We are proud to partner with Louisiana Tech on this cooperative research center, and to better serve our students, the industrial sector, and our nation through the research, training, and collaboration that will be done at the Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance.”

CISIA will serve as a trusted source for transformative insights, predictive capabilities, and materials innovations across broad industrial sectors, focusing on structural integrity assurance for small and large structures and mechanical components.

In addition to research for establishing linkages between material properties, infrastructure performance, and structural integrity—which is beyond the scope of most industrial research and development organizations today—the academic and industrial members of CISIA will collaborate closely to produce engineers who are trained to utilize modern methods of structural health monitoring and analysis.

Students will be trained in state-of-the-art testing and evaluation facilities to become some of the most highly qualified and productive workforce, which will contribute to enhancing the global competitiveness of U.S. industries. Through outreach and education activities that reach a diverse audience of college students at four- and two-year colleges, CISIA will raise awareness of not only the infrastructure problems facing the country, but also the career opportunities and positive impacts on the nation’s economy provided by a multidisciplinary STEM education.

“We believe that CISIA will assist our industry partners in improving safety, improving reliability, and improving workforce development to create the workforce of the future who are better prepared to understand and assure structural integrity in these critical areas of the economy,” said Samuel Bentley, vice president of research and economic development at LSU.

SOURCE – LSU and La Tech

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