Defense department awards VT researchers $3.8 million to prepare workforce for next- generation military systems


The United States Department of Defense has awarded Virginia Tech researchers $3.8 million. The grant will be used to establish programs to better position the current and next-generation manufacturing workforce to produce military systems and components that assure the defense department’s technological superiority..

The research will support the Office of Naval Research’s Manufacturing Engineering Education Program.

“The Virginia Tech team will work to create a multidisciplinary program that seeks to create and sustain a workforce for the design, application, and fabrication of structures supporting systems, such as communications, radar, and additional related areas in applied electromagnetics,” said Bradley Davis, research assistant professor at the Hume Center for National Security and Technology and principal investigator. “Together we will work to develop student and industry participant expertise in the critical technologies needed in design and manufacturing for the Department of Defense and commercial platforms.”

Davis leads a team from across Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, including mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and industrial and systems engineering. The team develops new courses that educate students in the use of materials and processes for such applications as conformal and embedded antennas in aircraft wings.

Michael Bortner, assistant professor of chemical engineering and co-principal investigator, will serve as the grant team’s lead for composite materials and processing. Other engineering faculty involved in the research are Scott Case, Steven Ellingson, Chris Williams, Majid Manteghi, Jaime Camelio, Steve McKnight and Jack Lesko.

The program will enhance the university curriculum and offer unique industrial continuing education opportunities. Organized teams of undergraduate and graduate students will participate in related research programs that will be implemented in the form of a combination of courses and short courses.

As part of the program, students will be offered new coursework focused on electromagnetics, composite processing, additive manufacturing, and advanced antennas. Additionally, numerous short courses and workshops will be developed for the Department of Defense professional community.

Industry partners will engage with students through research team reviews, recorded guest lectures, internships, cooperative education, and graduate research sponsorships.


– Written by Christine Callsen