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TECH NEWS: NASA Taps Tech Professor to Lead $15 Million Space Technology Research Institute

TECH NEWS: NASA Taps Tech Professor to Lead $15 Million Space Technology Research Institute

TECH NEWS: NASA Taps Tech Professor to Lead $15 Million Space Technology Research Institute

Michigan Technological University Professor Greg Odegard will lead a new, multidisciplinary and multi-institution Space Technology Research Institute(STRI).

The institute is funded by a $15 million 5-year grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Odegard is the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Computational Mechanics at Michigan Tech and associate chair and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. He is also an adjunct professor of materials science and engineering at Tech. Odegard’s team will include 22 faculty members from 10 universities, two companies and the US Air Force Research Lab.  Their STRI is called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design or US-COMP.

“We are fortunate to have the best researchers in their respective fields from across the country on the US-COMP team.,” said Odegard. “At Michigan Tech, we plan to have several faculty involved from various departments, in addition to numerous undergraduate and graduate students.”

Bill Predebon, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, is thrilled about the NASA institute grant. “This is a major accomplishment by Dr. Odegard and Michigan Tech,” he said. “Greg has the experience and research accomplishments needed to lead such a large multi-university and industry institute, having been a PI on a NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center and an internationally recognized leader in composite material modeling.”

As NASA shifts its focus from low-earth orbit to deep space exploration, the agency is going to need building materials for vehicles, habitats, power systems and other equipment that are lighter and stronger than those available recently.  US-COMP’s aim is to develop and deploy a carbon nanotube-based, ultra-high strength lightweight aerospace structural material within five years.

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