By  Courtney Clayton
Patrick E. Hopkins, Tomonari Furukawa, Daniel Quinn and Chloe Dedic
Patrick E. Hopkins, Chloe Dedic, Tomonari Furukawa and Daniel Quinn.

We are pleased to announce that faculty of University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Patrick E. Hopkins, Tomonari Furukawa, Daniel Quinn and Chloe Dedic, have received Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grants totaling over $2.2 million from the Department of Defense. DURIP funding supports the purchase of major equipment necessary for universities to accelerate research that prepares the future science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce to succeed globally — and boost the United States' technological edge. 

The 2023 awards mark the most concurrent DURIP grants the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has received. The projects will contribute to building world-class facilities and systems that will serve not only the University’s interests, but also those of the Department of Defense and the academic community at large, providing unique research experiences and learning opportunities for students. 

Patrick E. Hopkins, Whitney Stone Professor of Engineering and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received funding for his proposal titled “Thermal Conduction, Radiation and Melting Temperature Measurements of Materials in Extreme Environments Using Fast Laser Heating.” The grant will be used to purchase pyrometers and a laser system that will enable researchers to develop a sophisticated, more accurate measurement system for evaluating materials subjected to extreme environments. This equipment will be part of a new laser heating facility at UVA – the only one in the world with the capacity to measure thermophysical properties at this level.

Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Zinn faculty scholar Tomonari Furukawa’s project, “Equipment for Performance Evaluation of Semi‐Autonomous Robots for Full‐Scale Engineered Environments,” was also awarded. Currently, no facility can conduct performance evaluations on semi-autonomous robots, as the activity requires a sizable space. However, Furukawa’s project will outfit the decommissioned nuclear reactor building at UVA with the necessary technology to serve as a full-scale testing facility for these devices.  

Additionally, two of the four recipients are early-career scholars, a particularly impressive feat. “It is not easy for junior faculty to receive this large and prestigious grant,” said Furukawa.

Daniel Quinn, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was awarded funding for “A World‐Class Water Channel for Naval Research at the University of Virginia.” Quinn’s project will build a massive recirculating water channel for studying robots. Once complete, the channel will be one of the largest in the world, measuring about 40 feet long and weighing about 125 tons. Having a facility of this size will allow for 3D flow imaging of large swimming robots or numerous smaller devices. The channel will be a career-defining piece of equipment for UVA researchers and also provide new research and education opportunities to students and the broader academic community. 

Chloe Dedic, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received funding for her project titled “Robust and Mobile Multidimensional Laser Spectroscopy System to Study Hypersonic and Propulsion Environments.” Here, the funding will support the creation of a mobile system for taking advanced laser-based measurements at high-speed wind tunnels and propulsion test facilities. Building a mobile system will significantly decrease the time typically required to set up the laser systems, ensuring this equipment will benefit not only facilities at UVA, but across the country. 

"DURIP awards build vital research infrastructure, advancing the exploration of knowledge and upholding the cutting-edge capabilities of our academic institutions," said Dr. Bindu Nair, director of basic research in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in a press release

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