URI, UConn, EB Workforce Development Partner | West

URI has received over $16 million through a partnership

KINGSTON — When the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology was established in 2017 in partnership with the University of Rhode Island, University of Connecticut and General Dynamics Electric Boat, it created opportunities for collaboration in applied research, transition technology and workforce development.

“The institute educates individuals for the shipbuilding industry, transitioning not just technologies, but a solid knowledge base to advance the next generation and upcoming underwater vehicle platforms,” said Arun Shukla, co-director of the institute of NIUVT and URI Simon Ostrach. Professor of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering.

The National Institute of Underwater Vehicle Technology has had a profound impact on the local economy by preparing students for defense-related careers, providing further training for those working in the defense industry, and partnering with government agencies and companies that have defense contracts.

More than $16 million has been awarded to URI for institute research projects and workforce development, including $5.5 million for 20 projects this year. Funding for this year’s projects was approved on April 12.

When the institute was established, 12 technical areas were identified as having strategic importance to the Navy in underwater vehicle technologies. URI and UConn have a rich history of research and collaboration with the Navy in these areas.

URI’s five engineering departments – chemistry; civil and environmental; electrical, computer and biomedical; mechanical, industrial and systems; and ocean engineering — are represented in the collaborative’s research projects.

In most cases, researchers from both universities, or several researchers from the same university, as well as collaborators from Navy-related companies, work on a project.

Through the latest round of funding, Helio Matos, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at URI, will work with UConn engineering professors Ali Bazzi and Rainer Hebert to determine the properties of 3D-printed materials for underwater vehicles.

“I’ve met some UConn faculty members at NIUVT-sponsored events,” Matos said. “We share many of the same goals and visions for the future regarding smart materials and manufacturing, and our areas of expertise complement each other.”

URI ocean engineering professors Brennan Phillips and Stephen Licht will use the funding to continue their research into soft robotics used at great depths in the ocean.

“Stephen and I have been collaborating in innovative ways to achieve delicate manipulation of soft robotics in the deep ocean for over seven years,” Phillips said. “NIUVT has provided a new avenue to explore these topics much further.”

Other ongoing research projects involving researchers from URI and UConn cover topics such as signal detection and identification, innovative sensors and sensing, shock attenuation, reduction of vibration and drag, and challenges associated with power.

“The Navy’s continued financial support for collaborative research and workforce development enables us to develop cutting-edge technologies, prepare the next generation for high-tech careers in the defense industry and to offer engineers the possibility of obtaining higher degrees related to their work,” says Choukla.

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