Flyers Develop Tech In Partnership With Wright-Patt

Grazia Dipierro 
Contributing Writer

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Dayton is celebrating a significant growth in research, with numbers in the double digits. UD saw an 11% increase from last year, reaching a record $166 million in sponsored research.

In a press release published by UD in August, John Leland, vice president for research at the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), stated that new awards helped UD establish contracts with nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) in engineering systems for landing gear, hypersonics and advanced power technologies for aircrafts, to name a few.

For instance, UDRI accepted the delivery of a C-130 aircraft at UDRI’s headquarters building. The decommissioned aircraft will be used to test technologies that are designed to reduce the cost of sustaining the Air Force’s C-130 fleet. The Air Force devotes a large amount of time and energy to aircraft sustainment, so the research done to lower costs will aim to improve readiness and efficiency.

UDRI is also working in partnership with other universities such as the University of Tennessee and Purdue University to design hypersonic vehicles. Traveling faster than five times the speed of sound, hypersonic vehicles are exposed to significant thermal and aerodynamic conditions. UDRI is working to design structures that can withstand these conditions.

Additionally, UDRI has been granted a five-year contract with the Air Force to conduct research using nondestructive evaluation methods (NDE) to look “inside” materials and structures without having to damage them. UDRI uses technologies such as X-ray and ultrasound to determine the behavior and properties of certain materials.

Researchers at UDRI engage in various engineering services, such as testing, prototyping, reverse engineering and modeling for landing gear for multiple aircraft at the Air Force Base. As an example, researchers are working on simulating gravity forces on a C-130 aircraft as it hits the runway. In order to simulate these forces, researchers built a two-story steel frame with a maximum take-off weight of 75 tons.


Partnerships between UD and WPAFB start with government customers requesting proposals. If UD feels that the capabilities and resources available to them are a good match for what the customer is looking for, they bid on that particular program. If UD is the best bidder, they are issued a contract for the work.

UDRI allows students to produce new developments in engineering and technology while also providing the opportunity for students to apply their research to the real world. Student researchers test both new and existing technologies in the field, observing how their advancements could be used in the future.

Not all research projects are Air Force contracts or related to UDRI, some projects are with faculty. During the 2018 fiscal year, more than 350 graduate and undergraduate students participated in sponsored research projects, whether it was in partnership with faculty, UDRI researchers or WPAFB. Students work in labs on campus, as well as at WPAFB.

Learning in the classroom paired with research experience helps students better prepare themselves for jobs in engineering, technology or the sciences after graduation. Students who are interested in pursuing research opportunities can reach out to UDRI through its website or its email.

Photo of C-130 courtesy of Pamela Gregg

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