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NIAR Programs Benefit From Being WIRED

Department Of Labor Grants Will Fund Research On Composite Materials

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR)at Wichita State University is one of seven major regional partners in the WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) initiative-a 3-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, aimed at accelerating development of the South Central Kansas region's workforce expertise, research and development, entrepreneurship and economic growth related to composites and advanced materials.

Numerous new composite aircraft programs have been aided by the Composite Kansas WIRED initiative, a 2009 finalist for the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration Excellence in Economic Development Awards.

In June 2008, funding from the WIRED initiative allowed NIAR to hire research engineer Royal Lovingfoss, a former chemical test engineer for Toray Composites, in order to diversify the services offered by NIAR's Composites & Advanced Materials Laboratory. Within 6 months of hiring Lovingfoss, NIAR established a new area for the Composites Lab to house thermal, physical and chemical characterization instruments-one of them a new Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer that was added based on Lovingfoss' expertise as a polymer chemist. These changes allowed the lab both to expand and streamline material testing services.

The use of the WIRED grant showed quickly to be a sound investment when the largest single NIAR industry contract in Wichita State history followed in February 2009. The long-term contract meant NIAR involvement in the FAA certification of the new all-composite Learjet 85* business jet, from the testing of coupon samples to the structural certification of full-scale components.

"WIRED funds have enabled the South Central Kansas region to accelerate the migration of state-of-the-art composites and advanced materials processes to the workforce," said Debra Franklin, WIRED project director. "More than 1,400 workers will be trained."

"The WIRED initiative has proven to be an excellent resource for numerous new aircraft development programs involving composites as the primary airframe structure," said Dr. John Tomblin, NIAR executive director. "Without funding from the WIRED initiative, we may not have been able to maintain and recruit the skilled engineers needed to make these programs successful."

FMI: www.niar.twsu.edu

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