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Center's funding renewed

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 26 - March 30, 1995

Virginia Tech's Center for High-Performance Polymeric Adhesives and Composites has received approval for another five years of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The National Science Board, the policy-making body of the NSF, has approved $8.988 million, funding the center until the year 2000.

The Virginia Tech NSF center is one of 11 original university-based Science and Technology Centers (STC) in the nation. The NSF established the Science and Technology Centers research program to promote basic research on complex problems that require large-scale, long-term, interdisciplinary effort. Center researchers are chemists and engineers.

The future competitiveness of the aerospace, automotive, and construction industries depends heavily on development of improved lightweight, composite polymer materials. Hence Virginia Tech, with a record of accomplishment in chemistry and engineering, was selected as the site of an NSF center devoted to development of high-performance polymeric adhesives and composites. Research ranges from the creation of new materials to the study of mechanical and molecular behavior on a microscopic level within and between adhesives and composite-material layers, to measurement and prediction of large-scale mechanical properties on a larger scale.

The latest NSF grant will add five STC fellowships. Recipients will be paid at the highest university stipend level, plus tuition. "The intent is to attract the most outstanding students to work with center faculty members," explains Tim Pickering, assistant director for the Virginia Tech NSF center.

The center has also offered a highly competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Program for the past seven years. Two dozen college juniors and seniors from across the country are selected to conduct research at Virginia Tech from mid-May until August. They work with center researchers and are paid about $4,500 plus room and board. Outstanding students have created new materials and educational programs and tools.

With the five-year renewal, the Virginia Tech center will have funding for a total of 11 years--the maximum time under the STC program as originally designed. The total NSF commitment to the Virginia Tech center at the conclusion of the program will have been more than $19.5 million. The center has received $2 million for 1995 from NSF as the first portion of the most recent grant. The grant includes a phaseout schedule for the last two years. The center has established linkages with government agencies, industry, and other institutions as it has determined needs and shared the results of its research. For example, the center cooperates with the College of William and Mary in research programs and to attract that college's undergraduates into graduate studies at Virginia Tech. A supplemental grant in cooperation with Clark-Atlanta University supports student and faculty exchanges to encourage more minority students to consider careers in science and engineering.

The Center for High-Performance Polymeric Adhesives and Composites hopes to develop other sources of funding to meet its needs beyond the year 2000.