John DuPont, professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is the principal investigator in an NSF grant for continuing research in materials joining. Co-principal investigators and fellow colleagues in materials science are Richard Vinci and Masashi Watanabe, along with Herman Nied of the department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics.
Lehigh works with The Ohio State University, Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Tennessee as part of an NSF Industry and University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) to advance the science of materials joining as well as the emerging field of additive manufacturing (AM). The organization is known as the Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center (Ma2JIC).
Many important components and systems that are fabricated by industry — and subsequently used within the infrastructure of the United States — require joining at some point within the manufacturing process. Examples include aircraft parts, bridges, and power generation plants.
Joining processes are quite complex and can significantly alter the properties of the materials used to create these components, affecting the ability of the component to operate safely over the targeted design life. Safe and effective design, fabrication, and use of components manufactured by joining requires integration of many engineering disciplines.
Only a handful of universities throughout the United States have the capacity to tackle these challenges, and there is a shortage of qualified engineers being trained to help address them. Ma2JIC was established to fulfill these needs.
Research conducted at all the Ma2JIC sites work closely with Center members to identify projects that will provide member companies with methods for improving the performance and/or reducing the costs associated with components they design, manufacture, and/or use. The projects also serve as vehicles for educating the next generation of highly trained graduate-level scientists and engineers.
In particular, Lehigh provides expertise in several distinct areas such as modeling and electron microscopy, and also provides a strong link to the energy industry through the Energy Research Center.
Plans are underway to include undergraduate students through a senior capstone course on Materials Selection and Failure Analysis, in which Center members provide failed components for analysis by the students and serve as their industry mentors.