Title: Strengthening the Ph.D. Program in Materials Science and Engineering at Tuskegee University

Award ID: 0833158 (Oct 2008 to Sept 2010)


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). The T-CAM faculty members, who support research and education of a large number of minority undergraduate and graduate students, have developed state-of-the-art 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. 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. Since the inception of the program in 1998, we have produced nine (9) PhDs and eleven (11) more are scheduled to successfully complete their degree requirements by May 2009. The faculty members associated with this program have realized that in order to produce graduates who can compete successfully in the global market, the Ph.D. program needs to be further strengthened by providing additional depth and breadth in the curriculum and incorporating new areas of research and professional development activities.

Intellectual merit of this proposal lies in the fact that the involvement of students in the cuttingedge research in advanced materials, particularly, nano-bio materials, and the offering of a wide range of new courses, will lead to the production of graduates who can successfully handle materials development challenges posed by the future technological advancements. The proposed enhancements in the curriculum will also allow the students to develop communication, mentoring, proposal development and business development skills that are necessary for the engineering PhDs to assume leadership roles in the industry and the academia. Internships at industrial, national and international laboratories will provide the students with the necessary skills to become highly competitive scientists and engineers. Start-up funding for selected junior African American faculty, successfully implemented through an earlier grant, will be another feature of the proposed HBCU-RISE project. The expertise gained by the junior African American faculty in research and education in MSE, through start-up funds, will allow Tuskegee University to enhance diversity among its researchers and increase the number of faculty participants in its MSE program.

The broader impacts of this project include production of a large number of African American graduates at the Ph.D. level, in emerging areas of materials science and engineering with excellent communication and interpersonal skills developed through industrial experience and international exposure. 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 by the students through their involvement in new research areas 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 materials, and development of new businesses, which will result in a profound impact on the economic development of the state and the region.

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