College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CCEE and ME faculty receive $540k grant to predict health of high-rate systems

Prestigious funding from the U.S. Department of Defense will provide Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) professor Simon Laflamme and Mechanical Engineering associate professor Chao Hu the opportunity to study new algorithms to predict the health of mechanical systems in real-time and high speeds. The award total is $540k for 3-years and will start next month.

The team received funding from a special program within the U.S. Department of Defense, the Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR). DEPSCoR is a special program that awards teams to reinforce research-based programs at institutions.

“High-rate systems include, advanced weaponry, blast mitigation, air bags, hypersonic vehicles,” Laflamme said. “We want to be able to increase their safety and operations by enabling real-time feedback (for example, adaptive guidance of a hypersonic system following ballistic impact). The way we do this is by developing a new machine learning technique that can learn really fast, and in real time.”

Laflamme says what interested him in learning about high-rate systems was the exciting challenge to further develop new mechanical systems and working at very high speeds. He will study how to accelerate learning of dynamic representations by injecting physics in the machine learning mechanism using tools from algebraic topology and modern mathematics, known as topological data analysis.

“What the team is hoping to get out of this will hopefully empower the deployment and utilization high-rate systems, for example hypersonic transportation,” Laflamme said. “It can also improve general safety and resilience of structures by enabling active impact and blast mitigation mechanisms.”

To read more about the DEPSCoR visit their article.