Aviation

Wichita State aviation researchers win $23.5 million Air Force contract

A new aviation research lab at Wichita State University will take the lead on a program that has been awarded a $23.5 million Air Force contract.

The National Institute for Aviation Research at WSU won the contract for fleet sustainment, the university said in a news release. The new Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems at NIAR will lead the research program, which is “aimed at developing a certification framework for enabling advanced materials and structural concepts for automated manufacturing.”

“This program will expand the framework for developing innovative in-service inspection technologies for advanced structures and bonded joints, validating high-fidelity composite repair analysis techniques, and assessing aging composite structures for life extension and structural enhancements,” WSU said in the release.

The research includes machine-learning, artificial intelligence algorithms and automation technology for manufacturing composite airframes, the release states.

“Wichita State has strategically invested in technology to assist the aviation and manufacturing industries become more competitive and efficient, while providing applied learning opportunities for our students,” said WSU Interim President Andy Tompkins in the release. “This extended partnership with the DoD and AFRL is an endorsement of the high-caliber capabilities and expertise at this university and we’re honored to have the opportunity to work with them in this capacity.”

The $23.5 million contract for Modeling for Affordable, Sustainable Composites is through the United States Air Force Research Laboratory. The program includes partners from the Air Force lab, defense contractors and universities.

“The fleet sustainment program signifies the immense value NIAR provides to our Air Force and national defense,” said Sen. Jerry Moran in a statement.

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