New Center Launched for Infrastructure Composites: Call for Participation

 West Virginia University (WVU) and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey have announced a National  Science Foundation (NSF) program to help develop composite materials for integration into infrastructure applications. The universities are seeking support for the program, which is described as an industry/university cooperative research center.

The primary objective of the proposed venture, the Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure (CICI), is to usher applications of composites in civil and military infrastructures to the next level through collaborative efforts between WVU and Rutgers and potential industry partners. The program focus will be to synergize different fibers and polymers and, as a result, create new infrastructure applications. The NSF approved a Planning Grant in August that will enable CICI to continue formal development of the Center and host a recruitment meeting to bring in industry support.

Companies that become members in the program are expected to be able to leverage research and development investments through the cooperation of industrial, university and government entities. Anticipated benefits also include reduction or elimination of royalties on newly developed products, elimination of overhead fees on membership dues, access to supplemental funds avail-able only to NSF research center members, career development opportunities through educational modules, networking and business opportunities, and access to a pool of graduate student job seekers that has extensive experience working with composite technologies.

WVU will lead, with Rutgers serving as a partner university. The former's Dr. Hota GangaRao will be the center director, managing overall operations. Site directors Dr. Udaya Halabe (WVU) and Dr. P.N. Balaguru (Rutgers) will oversee research conducted at each university. CICI will be a part of WVU's Constructed Facilities Center (CFC), also directed by Dr. GangaRao.

An industrial advisory board will facilitate industry partnerships and advise the center on all aspects of operations. One of the board's primary roles will be helping to ensure that the research conducted by WVU and Rutgers is in line with industry objectives. While the NSF provides $80,000 (USD) in direct funding to each university for up to five years and offers the potential of additional support for specific endeavors, the center is expected to be sustained by industry. Therefore, membership fees will be the primary funding mechanism for the research, development and education undertaken by CICI.

Letters of commitment from industry members must be received by Jan. 12, 2009 to meet NSF deadlines. Membership fees will not be due until Aug. 1, 2009. The first meeting of the industrial advisory board has been scheduled for Jan. 20, 2009. A recruitment meeting at the conference center of the Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa in Morgantown, W. Va., will take place Oct. 21-22, 2008.

For more info or to register for the recruitment meeting, contact WVU at (304) 293-7608 or e-mail: