NAE Awards the 2022 Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants for Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research


Tue, March 15, 2022

Washington D.C., March 15, 2022 —

Two Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants of $30,000 have been awarded to attendees of the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 2021 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) Symposium.

Jamel Ali (Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering) and Kaitlyn Sadtler (National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering) have received a Grainger Grant for their project titled, “Evaluating the role of micro-mechanical remodeling during immune-mediating tissue regeneration.” Engineered cell-based therapies are key tools in next-generation personalized medicine. However, these therapies can be limited by uncontrolled immune responses. Alternatively, approaches that utilize biomaterials designed to stimulate restorative immune responses can promote tissue development and regeneration. While much is known about biochemical effects during immune cell-driven healing, there are gaps in our understanding as to how the properties of biomaterial matrices affect immune response. This work will for the first time combine state-of-the-art biophysical tools, such as electromagnetic tweezer-based force measurements, and advanced biomchemical methods, such as high-dimensionality flow cytometry, to evaluate how the microscale mechanics and biochemistry evolve during immune cell-guided tissue repair. The award to Florida A&M University (FAMU), marks the first Grainger Grant to a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

The second Grainger Grant has been awarded to Xiaowei Yue (Virginia Tech) and Marco Salviato (University of Washington) for their project, “Novel physics-informed machine learning framework for quality control for composite structures assembly.” Composite materials are used in many industries, with an end-product market for composites expected to reach $113.2 billion by 2022. However, it is challenging to avoid severe defects in composites because, unlike metals, many defects are not detectable with non-destructive evaluation techniques. Yue and Salviato aim to develop novel methodologies for predictive analytics, variation reduction, and defect mitigation for ultra-high precision quality control of composite structures assembly. This work will advance understanding of defect formation via multiscale simulations and experiments, develop physics-informed machine learning for predicting deviations and stresses for assembled composites, and propose real-time defect mitigation and quality improvement strategies.

“Congratulations to this year’s Grainger Grant recipients,” said NAE President John L.  Anderson. “I am especially pleased to recognize the first ever Grainger Grant to a principal investigator at an HBCU. These four recipients show that with a collaborative spirit engineers can solve some of the most challenging problems, from engineering the tools for the next-generation of personalized medicine to creating stronger composite materials. These awards also demonstrate the value of collaborative networking that the NAE Frontiers of Engineering program offers.”

Frontiers of Engineering is an NAE program that brings together highly accomplished early-career engineers from industry, academia, and government to discuss pioneering technical work and leading-edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. The goal is to facilitate interactions and exchange of techniques and approaches across fields and facilitate networking among the next generation of engineering leaders. The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants provide seed funding for U.S. FOE participants who are at U.S.-based institutions to enable further pursuit of important new interdisciplinary research and projects stimulated by the U.S. FOE symposia.

Brandon  Green
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