The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded the University of Central Florida more than $1.5 million for projects that will help boost the nation’s technological edge and STEM workforce.

The grants are through the DOD’s annual Defense University Research Instrumentation Program and will support equipment and instrumentation to accelerate basic research.

The recipients and their projects are:

  • Rodrigo Amezcua Correa, Associate Professor of Optics and Photonics
    Project: Automated Laser Micro-machining for High Power Fiber Lasers
    Award: $258,260 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
  • Yehuda Braiman, Research Professor of Optics and Photonics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Project: Efficient, Scalable, High Power, Multi-Frequency Blue Diode Laser Array for Underwater Applications
    Award: $379,218 from the Office of Naval Research
  • Robert Crabbs, Sr. Research Scientist at Townes Institute Science and Technology Experimentation Facility
    Project: Atmospheric and Turbulence Monitoring Sensors
    Award: $385,000 from the Office of Naval Research
  • Kathleen Richardson, Pegasus Professor of Optics and Photonics, and Materials Science and Engineering
    Project: Infrared Material Purification and Handling
    Award: $162,000 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
  • Subith Vasu, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Project: Characterization of Energetics
    Award: $337,692 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Some funding could change depending on the final amount awarded and an additional project is expected to be added to the list.

More than 80 institutions across the country received awards through the program this year and the projects will support the design, development, and characterization of novel materials, quantum computing and quantum networks, bioelectronics, hypersonics, autonomy, and more.

“DURIP awards provide essential research infrastructure to enable the pursuit of new knowledge and help maintain cutting-edge capabilities of our universities,” says Bindu Nair, Director of the Basic Research Office in the Department of Defense’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “The awards will sustain the scientific excellence of our universities, train the next generation of STEM workforce, and facilitate scientific advances that will drive unparalleled military capabilities for our country.”

One of this year’s recipients is working on a multi-investigator project that aims to make optical composite fiber lasers.

“Our team is comprised of material scientists, laser physicists and numerous students who bridge these disciplines,” Richardson says. “The award will assist the multi-disciplinary team in using novel coating technology, upgrading our optical material processing capabilities to make better composites.”

Last year, UCF received about $1.3 million through the program. The recipients were Ayman Abouraddy, Brian Kim and Vasu, an awardee for this year as well.