May 24, 2024

Members of Air Force Research Laboratory Regional Network – Midwest visit NDSU


The NDSU Office of Research and Creative Activity recently hosted representatives from the Air Force Research Laboratory Regional Network – Midwest for a campus visit.

The visit aligns with RCA's efforts to increase innovation and industry partnerships, following a successful visit in October 2023 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. NDSU leads all North Dakota higher education institutions in DOD funding and research expenditures.

The AFRL Regional Network – Midwest is dedicated to developing next-generation research and technology to support the Air Force mission by providing analysis, development and testing capabilities that span multiple science and engineering disciplines. From propulsion to communications, materials to sensors, the AFRL's research focus is on advancing mission capability and accelerating technology transitions throughout the life cycle of programs. The Midwest Network works to facilitate partnerships between industry and academia to develop new means to address current and future needs.

Stacy Manni, director of AFRL Midwest, and Michael Bianco, deputy program manager for the APEX PIA, a program managed under Parallax Advanced Research, discussed how NDSU researchers could integrate with AFRL and navigate the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

Representatives from both Elinor Coatings and Packet Digital, two Fargo-based companies with U.S. Department of Defense contracts, joined Manni and Blanco in a roundtable discussion with industry partners to increase SBIR and STTR awards in conjunction with AFRL and other DOD partners.

Manni praised the level of research at NDSU and discussed details about the next call for research grants from the agency, saying "It was a pleasure learning about all the impactful research happening at North Dakota State University. The AFRL Regional Network - Midwest values meaningful innovation that advances next-generation research and technology. It's clear that NDSU is already doing its part, and we look forward to connecting its talented researchers with scientists and engineers across the defense ecosystem."

Cindy Graffeo, NDSU's director of innovation and economic development, was instrumental in organizing the event. She is responsible for aligning campus and regional resources with opportunities to foster and support economic development, startups, entrepreneurship and innovative efforts and she noted the importance of providing NDSU researchers with connections like Manni and Bianco.

"The AFRL Regional Network – Midwest exists to provide a doorway into research collaborations with the Air Force and it was beneficial to have both groups together throughout the visit," said Graffeo. "RCA will continue to create these types of opportunities that connect NDSU faculty researchers with funding agencies and other groups to leverage our intellectual capital with the needs of the nation."

Categories: Research
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