Wichita State lands $33 million contract for Army’s high-speed missile program

Wichita State University’s aviation research program just landed another contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.

The three-year, $33 million contract calls for the National Institute for Aviation Research to work on the Army’s high-speed missiles, with a goal of making them lighter and cheaper while improving performance.

“These programs are integral to the future of our military and the future of our students,” said Andy Tompkins, WSU’s interim president, in a news release Tuesday.

Tompkins said the contract will give students, both undergraduates and graduates, “an advantage no other university in the country can match.”

“The expertise of our aerospace faculty and staff is crucial in advancing the efforts of the Department of Defense and in providing the ultimate applied learning experience for Wichita State graduates and undergraduate students,” he said.

This contract follows the awarding of a three-year, $23.5 million contract to WSU from the Air Force. For that contract, WSU will work on developing technology for automated, in-service inspection of military aircraft.

The Department of Defense is among the largest sources of federal funds for university research in one of WSU’s strongest areas of study — materials science.

The federal government’s research and development spending at universities across the country has more than doubled in the last two decades, from $17.5 billion in 2000 to $40.3 billion in 2017, the latest year of data compiled by the National Science Foundation.

Wichita State received about $21.7 million from the federal government that year.

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