Title: Enhancement of Research Infrastructure in the Materials Science and Engineering Program
at Tuskegee University

Award ID: 0627272 (09/2006 to 08/2009)

Project Summary 

The Center for Advanced Materials at Tuskegee University (T-CAM) contributes significantly to the basic and applied research in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), and supports research and education of a large number of minority undergraduate and graduate students. Tuskegee University’s first Ph.D. program in MSE, which aims at significantly increasing the number of African Americans holding the Ph.D. degree in this field, is also spearheaded by and housed in the T-CAM. While the faculty members at the T-CAM have developed state-of-the-arts facilities to conduct research in many aspects of advanced materials and acquired expertise in chemical synthesis and analysis, processing/manufacturing, performance evaluation, and modeling of advanced materials and structures, several areas of research still need significant enhancement for Tuskegee University to become competitive among institutions that conduct cutting-edge research in MSE. The areas that have been identified for enhancement and development with funding through the RISE program include: 1) in-house manufacture of carbon nanotubes, 2) manufacture and characterization of advanced fibers reinforced with carbon nanotubes and other nano fillers, 3) research in advanced electronic materials, 4) videoconferencing capability, and 5) development of junior African American faculty members to enable them to join the research and education programs in MSE.

Intellectual merit of this proposal lies in the fact that the expertise developed by the researchers at Tuskegee University to be able to manufacture carbon nanotubes, with consistent geometrical, chemical, electrical and mechanical properties, will allow them to produce nano fibers and nanocomposites with desirable properties that are reproducible. Enhancement in the advanced electronic materials research capability and the development of a better understanding of the interaction between the nanofillers and the host fibers will lead to the development of superior materials for advanced applications. The proposed development of video conferencing capability will allow Tuskegee researchers access to the conferences, seminars short courses on advanced materials presented all over the world, and disseminate their own findings. The expertise gained by the junior African American faculty in research and education in MSE, through seed funds, will allow Tuskegee University to enhance diversity among its researchers and increase the number of researchers in its MSE program.

The broader impacts of this project include production of a large number of African American graduates, many at the Ph.D. level, in emerging areas of materials science and engineering with skills in using the enhanced capabilities developed through this grant. Such graduates should become role models for many young minority students in years to come. Moreover, these graduates will help bring much-needed diversity to the nation’s advanced technological workforce. It is also anticipated that the knowledge gained through the use of the advanced research tools developed through this grant will eventually result in new design and manufacturing methodologies that may well lead to patentable processes for large-scale production of advanced electronic and other nanophased materials.

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