The Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement is partnering with the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate to provide students at minority-serving institutions the education and experience needed to help address manufacturing needs in the US aerospace sector.
The MUREP Aerospace High-Volume Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management Cooperative will provide almost US$1.5 million to fund curriculum-based learning, research, training, internships and apprenticeships at three institutions to meet the growing demand for expertise and techniques in high-volume aerospace manufacturing.
During the next two years, these institutions will develop innovative opportunities for students to learn about designing and building aerospace parts using high-volume manufacturing practices, as well as supply chain management of those parts.
The selected institutions and their proposals are:
Tuskegee University (TU), Alabama - Impact of Additive Manufacturing on Aerospace High-Volume Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management: Workforce Alignment through Research and Training.
In recent years, the US aerospace industry has struggled to meet the growing global demand for aircraft and parts, resulting in record high order backlogs, unsustainable spare parts inventories, and lost opportunities for growth.
TU will work with Bell Helicopter and NASA to accelerate the integration of 3D printing into high-volume aerospace manufacturing and supply chain management for helicopters and uncrewed aerial vehicles, also known as drones.
Bell will identify critical helicopter parts and work with TU to develop a complete business case for the use of 3D printing in the manufacture of these parts – from analyses of current manufacturing and supply chain practices, to development of executable 3D manufacturing plans.
In the drone track, TU teams will incorporate 3D printing into the design, build and test phases of drone development to improve the functionality and performance of these aircraft. The work will be conducted in increments to allow for continuous assessment of the quality performance of 3D-printed parts.
University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) - Southwest Alliance for Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing and Talent Development.
A critical challenge for US aerospace and defence sectors is a shortage of employees skilled in the manufacturing of composites and printed circuit boards (PCBs). PCBs are fundamental to the operations of all aerospace systems including navigation, guidance and control, and communication systems.
UTEP is partnering with Lockheed Martin, the US Army, and several regional stakeholders, to create a manufacturing ecosystem in the south-west that addresses this skill shortage.
This partnership will provide curricula, internships and apprenticeships through which students can gain active, hands-on experiential learning in the design and production of composites and PCBs.
Virginia State University (VSU), Petersburg - Donor Materials Enabled High-Volume Friction Welding of Blisks.
To date, high-volume manufacturing of a particular critical aircraft engine component has been unattainable due to the complexity of the component’s design and the manufacturing process.
The part, called a blisk, is a combination of a rotor hub and blades that is manufactured simultaneously from a single material, rather than two separate pieces. These complexities have hindered competition, innovation and workforce development in this area of US manufacturing.
VSU will create a pilot program to advance research, education and outreach to undergraduate and graduate students at VSU and Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia, focused on advancing on all fronts of manufacturing in this sector.
This pilot program will identify educational approaches that prepare the future workforce with key skills for aerospace manufacturing and examine and disseminate best practices for integrated innovation, design and manufacturing, that improve manufacturing education. It also will increase the number and diversity of manufacturing workforce by guiding underrepresented students to the aerospace industry.
For more than a decade, MUREP investments have enhanced the academic, research and technological capabilities of minority-serving institutions through multi-year grants. These institutions recruit and retain underrepresented and underserved students, including women, girls, veterans and persons with disabilities, into STEM fields.
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