Mon, Feb 15, 2010
Department Of Labor Grants Will Fund Research On Composite
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
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
"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
"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."
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