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UMaine Composites Center Initiates $6.2 Million U.S. Army R&D Programme

13 May 2005

The University of Maine recently presented details of a $6.2 million U.S. Army research programme at the AEWC to develop high strength composite structurss for the military.

The program takes advantage of newly expanded laboratory space financed with a voter-approved bond in 2004.

The research focus will be on studies of high strength structures for military applications, including advanced materials, tent protective structures, high-performance airbeams, rigidified inflatable structures, rapidly deployable bridges, and ballistic modular building components.

Speaking at the events was U.S. Senator Susan Collins and U.S. representatives Michael Michaud and Thomas Allen. U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe was represented by Gail Kelly of the senator’s Bangor office. Representing the U.S. Army will be Frank Kostka, director of collective protection, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center; and Dr. Reed Mosher, technical director, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

After the presentations, the speakers were invited around the AEWC's laboratory, including the $4.5 million expansion. The 15,000 square-foot addition was a key part of UMaine's ability to meet the Army’s research needs, says Habib Dagher, AEWC director. "The facilities investment by the voters, the Legislature and the Governor allowed us to taken on this large new R&D program."

The facilities include equipment and space to develop thick composites technologies, resin infusion processes and polymer extrusion. The space accommodates an anticipated 35 additional research personnel, including engineers, scientists and support staff who will be funded through the new research program.

"UMaine is looking forward to develop advanced lightweight construction materials and structures that will better protect our troups from attacks, while providing unique learning opportunities for our students, and business procurement opportunities for Maine industry" says Dagher.

Leading the effort to demonstrate the AEWC's capabilities to the Army were President Kennedy, Chancellor Westphal, Vice-President for Research Eckardt and Dagher. Maine's congressional delegation played a crucial role in supporting the program.

"This announcement underscores our commitment to research that holds promise for Maine's economy," says Kennedy. "It’s a natural marriage, with the Army and its critical needs for rapidly deployable, secure facilities on the one hand and UMaine’s exceptional strength in this area on the other."

Before coming to UMaine, Chancellor Westphal was an Assistant Secretary of the Army in Washington D.C. "This program is a major accomplishment for UMaine, and the latest recognition of its national prominence in research and development. It will create many new educational and research opportunities for faculty and students as well as tremendous new economic benefits and potential for the State," he says.

Researchers in UMaine Composites laboratory develop and investigate the properties of synthetic and natural fibre based composites at scales from molecules to large structures. With eight different labs occupying 48,000 square feet, AEWC provides the only university-based research facility in the US where new Composites products can be taken from initial concept to prototype design and full scale production and testing under one roof.





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