NASA funds two new Mississippi State engineering proposals

Contact: Jim Laird

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State is receiving funding for two proposals expected to help NASA achieve its long-term space mission, as well as enhance commercial partnerships and technological innovation on Earth.

The federal agency announced earlier this month that principal investigator Judy Schneider of the university's Advanced Materials and Processing Research Group was awarded the grants through the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center Cooperative Agreement program.

The program provides funding opportunities for outside organizations to become partners with the center in developing dual-use technologies that benefit both the proposing organization and the space agency.

"This funding effort builds on more than a decade of collaborative efforts with the NASA-Marshall Materials and Processing Branch," said Schneider.

"We have worked with both the metallic and non-metallic processing groups to help advance cutting-edge manufacturing techniques to optimize performance," she said.

Schneider joined MSU's mechanical engineering department in 1999 and today holds the Coleman and Whiteside Endowed Professorship in the land-grant institution's Bagley College of Engineering. A 1996 University of California-Davis doctoral graduate, her research interests are focused on how the microstructure influences the mechanical properties of materials, and how manufacturing processes can affect this relationship.

According to a NASA official, the 2014 Cooperative Agreement Notice for Dual-use Technology Development seeks unique, mutually beneficial technology development proposals from American industrial and academic partners outside government. The targeted areas specifically align with Marshall's current technology focus and strategic business endeavors, he added.

Dale Thomas, Marshall's associate director-technical, said, "This new initiative enhances Marshall's ability to collaborate with industry and academic partners in the cooperative pursuit of high-technology solutions critical to NASA's long-term goals in space and our joint endeavors here on Earth."

Titled "Improving Interlaminar Shear Strength of Out-of-Autoclave Composites," one of Schenider's proposals involves a partnership of the mechanical engineering department and MSU's Raspet Flight Research Laboratory with the space flight center's Engineering Directorate's Nonmetallic Manufacturing branch. The project seeks to develop a scalable approach to increase the interlaminar strength--that is, strength between layers--of composite laminates.

"Our proposed innovation could lead to a low-cost, scalable method to improve bonded joint strength in large-scale composite structures," Schneider explained.

For the second proposal titled "Printing Outside the Box: Additive Manufacturing Processes for Fabrication of Large Aerospace Structures," Schneider's research group in the mechanical engineering department will work with Marshall's Combustion Devices Design and Development Branch and Nonmetallic Manufacturing Branch.

In this effort, researchers will be developing fabrication process parameters and validation data needed for large-scale additive manufacturing using the gas metal arc welding process.

"This project builds on Mississippi State's reputation for world-class welding capabilities," Schneider noted, adding that it also will enhance Marshall's use of additive manufacturing to deliver large aerospace components and other structures.

According to Thomas, "While the individual projects may be relatively small, they have real potential for strategic impact in terms of fostering long-term partnerships, breakthroughs in technology or both."

For more about MSU's Advanced Materials and Processing Research Group, visit

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Tue, 08/26/2014 - 05:00