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NSF funding renewal continues smart vehicle technology progress

The Smart Vehicle Concepts Center (SVC), a National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), was granted a five-year funding renewal in August. With this award, the SVC has become a single-site Phase III NSF IUCRC consortium.

SVC researchers conduct scholarly research on smart materials applied to ground and aerospace vehicles. The strong industry relevance of the programs supported within the SVC leads to well-trained engineers and researchers at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels with both experimental and theoretical expertise, which the member organizations covet.

With an NSF investment acting as a catalyst, the SVC was established in 2007 to develop research programs of common interest to its member organizations; contribute to the nation's research infrastructure base; promote synergistic research and education as a means to enhance the intellectual capacity of the workforce; and facilitate technology transfer.

Dapino (left), his SVC team and MAE alumnus Ryan Hahnlen of Honda R&D Americas, developed a technology for seamlessly joining carbon fiber reinforced composites and metal structures.To date, the SVC has attracted an average of nearly 14 full memberships each year coming from 10 distinct full member organizations. During that five-year period, the center supported an average of 13 PhD, five MS and five BS students each year, yielding a total of nearly 75 journal articles, 40 conference papers, and more than 40 dissertations and theses.

Led by Professor and Honda R&D Americas Chair Marcelo Dapino, the SVC will continue to position Ohio State as a leader in smart vehicle technology research.

“A strong focus of the Phase III renewal is to expand the center’s research portfolio to address emerging needs in the industry,” said Dapino. “The NSF proposal outlined a vigorous effort toward sustainability of the center beyond the next five years along with plans for growing our faculty base and developing collaborations with other institutions.”

One example of a SVC partnership is the collaborative research program between Dapino and MAE alumnus Ryan Hahnlen (‘07 BS, ‘09 MS, ‘12 PhD), who is a member of the Strategic Research Operations group at Honda R&D, in Raymond, Ohio.

The duo is focused on the development of the next generation of lightweight vehicle structures. Utilizing ultrasonic additive manufacturing, Dapino and his team of SVC researchers have developed a technology for seamlessly joining carbon fiber reinforced composites and metal structures. This advance, which is being jointly patented by Honda R&D and Ohio State, will enable the incorporation of lightweight, strong organic materials into vehicle structures without disrupting existing manufacturing infrastructure based on spot metal welding.

The SVC leadership team includes Professor Raj Singh, Assistant Professors Vishnu Sundaresan, Soheil Soghrati and Ryan Harne, and Research Assistant Professor Scott Noll. The SVC Industrial Advisory Board, chaired by Thomas Greetham, of Moog, Inc., is comprised of representatives from the center’s member organizations and meets twice each year.

The IUCRC Program was established by the National Science Foundation in 1973 to develop long-term partnerships among industry, academia and government. The IUCRC Program currently supports more than 80 centers across the country, each one with a distinct focus.

A complete list of IUCRCs can be found at http://www.iucrc.org/centers.

by Kam King, Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering