Princeton joins new Air Force regional research hub

Monday, Feb 28, 2022
by Cornell University

Princeton is a founding member of a newly announced three-year, $8.9 million cooperative agreement from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) led by Cornell University to launch a regional research hub that will spark collaborations between partners in academia, government and industry from across the Middle Atlantic region.

The hub’s goal is to accelerate the translation of ideas into economic impact and jobs by leveraging intellectual property and new business opportunities that benefit both commercial and defense markets.

The initial partners of the Mid Atlantic AFRL Regional Hub include Princeton University, Binghamton University, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Griffiss Institute’s Innovare Advancement Center, as well as corporate partners such as GE Research, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Corning and Amazon. After the initial launch, the hub plans to expand this core group to include other institutions in the Middle Atlantic region. The pilot initiative will also include a regional hub in the Midwest led by Purdue University.

“Princeton University is excited to grow its collaborations with other universities, industry partners and government to expand the impacts of research and speed the transition of new discoveries into beneficial technologies,” said Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “This new research hub will provide the structure to train a new generation of scientists and innovators focused on society’s most important challenges.”

 The hub will be built on three core competencies: integrated distributed infrastructure for accelerated data development, technology translation pipeline, and workforce development. By design, these core competencies adopt a new research paradigm, which integrates technology translation efforts into the early stages of each project and offers a series of experiential learning opportunities as part of both student training and continuous education programs for the Air Force.

The hub will focus initially on two strategic research themes: measurements in extreme environments and complex systems modeling. This plan will allow the hub to stay nimble, address current Air Force and Space Force interests and anticipate emerging technology challenges.

Both initial research areas address fundamental challenges in a broad range of science and engineering: the need for robust materials design, and strategies to design and control complex systems in the presence of uncertainty. Accordingly, a major hub focus will be on developing effective AI and machine learning models that can help solve problems through intelligent automation and optimization.

Hub research projects will be identified and sourced collaboratively with AFRL in a new approach to awarding research funding. This approach will enable hub partners to incorporate their latest and best programs in science and engineering and integrate pathways to startups and larger corporations from the beginning of the project. By bypassing the sequential process steps, the hub will collapse the conventional path of research to products and accelerate innovation for both commercial and defense applications.

This article is based on information provided by Cornell University.