Research, perseverance, leadership in cutting-edge science, and plain hard work toward a specific goal for more than a dozen years has led to a key partnership between Louisiana Tech University and LSU that will pay off in breakthrough industry solutions and new educational advances and opportunities on both campuses.
The two universities recently announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded the establishment of the Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance (CISIA), the first Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) for either institution.
The NSF created the IUCRC program in 1973 to foster long-term partnerships among industry, universities, and government. Administrative expenses of the IUCRC’s are provided by the federal government while research activities are supported by industry members who also vote on the center’s research portfolio each year.
“This IUCRC is a distinct recognition of the excellent research conducted by Louisiana Tech faculty in collaboration with LSU,” said Tech President Dr. Les Guice. “Our industry partners will greatly benefit from these stronger partnerships with the researchers and talented students, and that will be great for Louisiana.”
“Louisiana Tech and LSU have been close partners on funded research for a long time, and this accomplishment is one more impressive outcome of the collaborations between our faculty and administrations,” said Dr. Ramu Ramachandran, Tech’s Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM). “With the support provided by the National Science Foundation, I am sure we will deliver exceptional value to our current and future industry partners in the coming years.”
CISIA’s research will help member industries monitor, forecast, and prevent structural and mechanical failure in components and structures, both existing and those produced by advanced manufacturing techniques. The Center will study structures both large and small. On the large side, think bridges, pipelines, freeways, and airport runways. On the small side, examples may be fasteners, ball bearings, or the extremely thin ceramic coatings often applied on machine parts — such as transmissions or cutting tools — to reduce friction, extend their useful life, and increase energy efficiency.
Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) and Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) will support CISIA with their intellectual capital and research facilities.
“CISIA is not only an interdisciplinary center between multiple departments and research centers on our campus, including the TTC and IfM, it is also a multi-University center, with LSU serving as our CISIA partner,” said Dr. John Matthews, Director of the Tech’s TTC and Principal Investigator on the most recent NSF grant. “Our team at the TTC is looking forward to meaningful collaborations with all of the academic and industry participants over the next five years of this Phase 1 grant.”
Students at both universities will have many opportunities to get involved in driving CISIA’s research and innovation. According to the NSF, more than 2,000 students every year engage in industrially-relevant research at IUCRCs nationwide, giving them on the job training for a career in the private sector. About 30 percent of these student researchers are hired by the member companies.
LSU Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Matt Lee said the collaboration is “a watershed moment enhancing our efforts to produce eminent engineers of the future, groundbreaking research, and innovative solutions that will significantly further the critical work to address failing and aging infrastructure around the country.”
“We are proud to partner with Louisiana Tech on this cooperative research center,” he said, “and to better serve our students, the industrial sector, and our nation through the research, training, and collaborations that will be done at the CISIA.”