Ohio State engineers earn Office of Naval Research award

Posted: March 11, 2016

The Office of Naval Research has announced the recipients of its prestigious 2016 Young Investigator Program (YIP), one of the oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Mahesh Illindala and Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Jenifer Locke are 2 of just 47 researchers nationwide receiving this year’s award.

Collectively, $25 million in this year’s YIP grants will fund research across a range of naval-relevant science and technology areas. Illindala’s award includes a funding request of $509,311 over three years for his work designing microgrid energy systems resilient to unexpected disruptions. Locke’s three-year study of aluminum-magnesium alloy corrosion included a total funding request of $610,418.

According to Illindala, next generation naval power systems need to support high combat capabilities, which will lead to increased energy and pulsed power loading.

“With the focus on energy security, such harsh demands call for alternative energy sources and new approaches to their integration,” he said.

Aluminum-magnesium (Al-Mg) alloys are being used in naval applications where light weight, strength and corrosion resistance are desired. The metal’s corrosion and cracking resistance changes when it is heated by sun exposure, a process called sensitization.


Locke’s research will provide the Navy data to develop accurate life prediction models for the metal alloy based on differing levels of sensitization.

“The YIP Program is in its 31st year at ONR and the award is still very competitive,” said ONR Director of Research Larry Schuette. “We are fortunate to be able to attract the top researchers to the fundamental science that underpins the Navy and Marine Corps of today, tomorrow and the future.”

For awardees, the funding supports laboratory equipment, graduate student stipends and scholarships, and other expenses critical to ongoing and planned investigational studies. This year's candidates were selected from 280 highly qualified applicants based on past performance, technical merit, potential scientific breakthrough and long-term university commitment.

Before joining Ohio State in 2015, Locke held R&D positions at the Alcoa Technical Center, where she worked in in alloy development, environmental cracking, and corrosion of aerospace and automotive wheel aluminum alloys. Illindala came to Ohio State in 2011 after serving as a senior engineer at Caterpillar.