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September 1, 2020

UConn scores $8M Air Force contract to study aerospace manufacturing

PHOTO | Contributed UConn's flagship Storrs campus.

The University of Connecticut received an $8- million contract from the U.S. Air Force to study aerospace manufacturing processes, and how they could be improved.

Pamir Alpay, associate dean of research and industrial partnerships at UConn's School of Engineering, said the grant will fund a three-year study of how planes and their components are built, like how raw materials are processed and how altering it could improve the performance of aerospace components.

"One dollar of raw material in the end will get you $10,000" Alpay said. "What we will provide is the knowledge that will help them reduce waste and increase yield."

A team of 15 UConn faculty members, 21 graduate students and a few post-doctoral students will conduct research for the project out of the UConn Tech Park in Storrs.

UConn's $8 million contract with the Air Force is the second it received from that branch of the U.S. military in recent years. In 2018, the Air Force signed a $5.4-million contract with UConn to look into the machining, casting and metal 3D printing involved in aerospace manufacturing, Alpay said.

Alpay cites UConn researchers' access to technology like state-of-the-art 3D printers and electron microscopes, along with well-respected research faculty at the university as reasons he thinks the Air Force is a repeat customer.

"The reason why we keep getting these kinds of major contracts with the airforce is we're providing transformative manufacturing technology," Alpay said.

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