West Point faculty receive $900K DURIP award for manufacturing enhancement technology

By Meghan Dower-Rogers USMA Academic Research Division Date: Thursday, Jan 11, 2024 Time: 2:57 EST
Dr. Jennifer Bennett (left) and Col. Margaret Nowicki have received a $900,000 award from the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) to acquire a Directed Energy Disposition (DED) machine to advance their research in materials development and manufacturing, leading to the development of lighter, stronger and more resilient materials. (Photo by Christopher Hennen/USMA PAO)

To be effective on the battlefield and during intense training, Soldiers need to have equipment that is strong, durable and lightweight. Now, two faculty members from the U.S. Military Academy’s Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering (CME) will have more resources to advance their research in materials development and manufacturing, leading to the development of lighter, stronger and more resilient materials. 

Dr. Jennifer Bennett and Col. Margaret Nowicki have received a $900,000 award from the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) to acquire a Directed Energy Disposition (DED) machine to do just that – advance their research.

DED is a metal 3D printing technology in which parts are built by depositing metal in layers to form a three-dimensional structure. The DED machine is unique in its ability to create functionally graded materials and modify or repair legacy components. 

Manufacturing is a primary driver of innovation, according to Bennett. “Without the ability to make it, a new design is just a nice idea,” she said.         

The research will impact the Army by allowing customization of materials and components to specific mission requirements, improving equipment performance and longevity. On-demand production capabilities will additionally mitigate risks related to supply chain disruptions by reducing dependence on external suppliers. 

The Army maintains a strategic advantage through leading in material development and manufacturing research and the competitiveness and effectiveness of military operations will be directly influenced by superior materials and manufacturing capabilities.

Furthermore, cadets will benefit from the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences with innovative technology. They will develop creative thinking and critical analytical skills as they confront real-world military challenges working on projects related to DED technology.

Bennett, who is an assistant professor in the Center for Innovation and Engineering (CIE) under CME, and Nowicki, academy professor and associate professor in CME, are the primary investigators for the project. The DURIP award, managed by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Command Army Research Laboratory (DEVCOM ARL), will support new research collaborations with ARL on creating structures with unusual combinations of strength and toughness that could shape new concepts for Soldier and vehicle protection.

Congratulations to the research team for their demonstrated excellence and for the important collaborative work they’ve set out to do. 

To learn more about the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering visit Civil and Mechanical Engineering | United States Military Academy West Point. 

To learn more about the Center for Innovation and Engineering visit CIE | United States Military Academy West Point. 

To learn more about the Army Research Office visit Army Research Office – DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory. 

To learn more about Army Research Laboratory visit DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory – The Army's foundational research laboratory.