April 24, 2023

Purdue celebrates Air Force Research Laboratory’s Regional Hub Network – Midwest to further research and development in areas of national security

Leaders from Purdue University and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) gathered on Friday (April 21) for the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the AFRL Regional Hub Network – Midwest, located on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.

Through the Regional Hub Network, AFRL scientists and engineers engage and collaborate with universities, small and large businesses, other government agencies and venture capitalists to assemble a new science and technology ecosystem in which partners help the lab research high-risk case studies. The goals of this collaboration are to leverage research, translation and workforce development successes across the United States, encourage science and technology exchanges and drive innovation.

In February 2022, Purdue was selected as one of two lead universities in the country and headquarter locations for the AFRL Regional Hub Network. Friday’s ceremony officially made Purdue home to the AFRL Regional Hub Network – Midwest, which includes more than 60 academic and industrial partners from across 12 Midwest states. Cornell University is the academic lead and headquarters location for the AFRL Regional Research Hub – Mid-Atlantic.

Purdue’s hub will host space for AFRL staff members to work on special projects that further research efforts and national security for the U.S.

“Purdue is proud to play a lead role in this unique program by the AFRL,” said Mung Chiang, Purdue University president. “This network headquartered at our university will serve the entire Midwest region and bring together universities, industry and government in innovating hypersonic, energetics, and microelectronics. Together, these efforts will make our country safer and stronger through impactful research.”

As the Midwest lead, Purdue is tasked with developing a region-specific science and technology roadmap; piloting partnership models with programmatic interventions, adopting and implementing best practices with a focus on expansion and identifying pathways for long-term impact on the science and technology ecosystem of the U.S. Air Force/Space Force. This will take place through three main goals and priorities: a new partnership model, technology transition and workforce development.

Karen Plaut, executive vice president for research at Purdue, introduced the first three proposal award winners and research projects to be funded by the AFRL Regional Hub Network – Midwest. Each award-winning project represents a team that includes academic and industry researchers who will work closely with at least one AFRL scientist or engineer.

The first project, titled “Passive Control of Hypersonic Boundary Layer Turbulence via Porous Carbon-Matrix Ceramics”, includes representatives of HySonic Technologies, AFRL, the University of Dayton, the University of Dayton Research Institute, Raytheon Technologies and Elevate Ventures. The second, titled “Effect of Thermal Deformation on Reattachment Heating Overshoot”, includes representatives of Purdue University, AFRL, Spectral Energies and Adranos. The third project is titled “Development of Solid-Fueled Rotating Detonation Engines”, and includes representatives from the University of Notre Dame, AFRL and The Ohio State University.

“As you can see by the multitude of partners collaborating on these projects, the power of this network is what is going to help us achieve the mission and is what the hub is all about,” Plaut said. “These projects are exciting examples of how work done by the hub can have an enormous impact.”

These projects are just the beginning; two to three more projects will be announced in the near future.

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