URI College of Engineering partners with 401 Tech Bridge to assist Rhode Island advanced materials manufacturers

URI students, professors will support winners of Materials Innovation Challenge

KINGSTON, R.I. – Dec. 15, 2020 – Three Rhode Island companies will soon benefit from faculty expertise at the University of Rhode Island College of Engineering as part of the 401 Tech Bridge Materials Innovation Challenge. Canapitsit Customs and TxV Aerospace Composites, both of Bristol, and Nautilus Defense, a Pawtucket-based small business, were selected as challenge winners from applicants across the country, enabling them to leverage the University’s academic resources and to work with three preeminent advanced materials researchers.

URI’s Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering Arun Shukla and Helio Matos, assistant professor of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering and their Dynamic Photomechanics Laboratory, and Sumanta Das, URI assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who leads the Multiscale & Multiphysics Mechanics of Materials Research Laboratory, will collaborate with the winners, offering modeling, research, testing and validation assistance and support to accelerate the development of advanced materials and technologies.

“With the collaboration between our laboratories, synergistic application of experiments and computational modeling in these projects will accelerate the design and development of transformative high-performance composite materials for multifunctional applications,” said Professor Shukla.

Graduate student Sami Doner working in the University of Rhode Island's Multiscale & Multiphysics Mechanics of Materials Research Laboratory. (URI Photo)
Graduate student Sami Doner working in the University of Rhode Island’s Multiscale & Multiphysics Mechanics of Materials Research Laboratory. (URI Photo)

URI engineering students also stand to benefit as part of the Challenge. Working under the guidance of Professors Shukla, Matos and Das, students will gain valuable hands-on experience in their chosen fields on real-world projects. The projects will allow students to interact with industry professionals as they attempt to solve the challenges presented by the Challenge-winning companies.

“This also provides an excellent opportunity for faculty and students at URI to get involved with applied research projects and help the local industry,” Shukla added.

401 Tech Bridge is an economic development organization that connects manufacturers, small businesses, research and development entities, trade organizations and state and defense agencies to collaborate in the development of new advanced materials, technologies and products. The Materials Innovation Challenge was formed to help give smaller companies a leg up, realizing that while large companies have internal research and development labs, smaller organizations in the advanced materials sector do not.

“401 Tech Bridge is excited to further the innovative work of Canapitsit Customs LLC, Nautilus Defense and TxV Aerospace Composites by connecting them to URI, which is known nationally for its advanced materials research,” said Mary Johnson, manager, 401 Tech Bridge. “The Materials Innovation Challenge helps these companies enhance their internal R&D capabilities with support from the University, creating new solutions and business opportunities.”

Canapitsit Customs LLC is a woman-owned small business specializing in composites design and manufacturing, for clients in the marine, defense and aerospace industries. Support from the Materials Innovation Challenge will enable the company to work with both labs to develop, simulate and validate the company’s design and manufacturing processes for a deep sea pressure vessel that has significant potential in the defense, renewable energy, and offshore oil and gas sectors.

Nautilus Defense is focused on the development and production of textile-integrated systems for monitoring high-value assets and their environments. Funding from the challenge will enable Nautilus to work with the labs to perform electromechanical testing of novel textile-integrated systems, which will help to strengthen the company’s offerings to the defense and commercial markets.

TxV Aerospace Composites is a manufacturer of composite parts and assemblies for the aerospace industry. With its Materials Innovation Challenge funding, TxV will work with URI’s Multiscale & Multiphysics Mechanics of Materials Research Laboratory to characterize the strength and behavior of material bond line and correlate that data to the performance of hybrid composite structures.

401 Tech Bridge will provide $35,000 per project to the University of Rhode Island to support this collaboration with work slated to begin in early 2021. The Challenge is supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and its Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network, URI’s Business Engagement Center, the URI College of Engineering and the URI Research Foundation.