By Adrienne Sylver
College of Engineering & Computing faculty members Stavros Georgakopoulos and Ibrahim Tansel have received funding for their research through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).
The Department of Defense initiative is providing $59 million to 147 researchers across 77 institutions and 30 states in 2023. Funds are used to purchase equipment necessary to advance research that helps build a resilient defense ecosystem and to provide opportunities to train STEM students as they prepare to enter the workforce.
Georgakoupoulos, professor and director of the Transforming Antennas Center, said the award will be used to acquire Sub-THz and THz Network Analyzer Modules, instrumentation that is critical in order for his research team to expand their work in the realm of higher frequencies.
“Everyone wants faster internet and data,” he explains. “Higher frequencies allow us to increase bandwidth and provide ultra-high-speed connections.”
The DURIP award received by Georgakopoulos came through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Much of his work has been done in the military arena and has centered on foldable, deployable, reconfigurable and multifunctional electromagnetic systems, and creating novel technologies for 5G/6G communication systems.
“Without these high-speed connections, we cannot improve technology that is necessary for emerging commercial and military applications, such as ultra-fine resolution imaging,” he says.
The impact of 6G wireless networks, or Next Generation Networks, can be observed in numerous industries including telecommunications, transportation, finance, education and healthcare. When robotic surgeons perform telesurgery, for example, they can’t take a chance on a risky connection.
“You don’t want any delay in what the surgeon is doing or any compromise in the images they are seeing,” Georgakoupoulos says. “They need real-time data.”
Tansel, who leads FIU’s Mechatronics Laboratory, received his award from the Army Research Office. The funds are being used to purchase electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT)-type, nondestructive testing (NDT) equipment, which is used to inspect the parts manufactured for aerospace applications.
Tansel works on the integration of NDT and structural health monitoring (SHM) with the help of embedded sensors, which will be created in the parts during the additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — process. This integration simplifies the inspection of parts just after manufacturing, continuously monitors loads and predicts possible failures ahead of time. The technology will improve the safety of the structures used in airplanes, nuclear powerplants and many metal parts. At the same time, additive manufacturing of the parts will reduce cost and production time.
“In the past, airplanes were taken out of service, put in storage and partially disassembled to reach the critical areas for NDT inspections. Later, SHM systems were developed for continuous monitoring of critical sections,” Tansel says. “The EMAT system will let us study how we can develop embedded sensors in additively manufactured structures and where they should be located.”
Both Georgakopoulos and Tansel agree that in addition to further enabling their research, the funds contribute greatly to the education of their students by allowing them to experience a cutting-edge research environment. Undergraduates learn important basic skills in the lab, and master’s and Ph.D. students conduct the work in modeling, simulation and design and method comparison necessary to contribute to the science. These kinds of experiences, Tansel adds, help students land high-paying engineering jobs.
“We are excited about receiving these very competitive awards,” says John L. Volakis, dean of the College of Engineering & Computing. “This equipment is much needed and helps place FIU squarely at the center of research that is having an impact across the nation.”
Only one other university in Florida received 2023 DURIP funds. Among other notable universities on the DURIP list were the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Princeton University.