In recent years, Wichita State University’s relationship with the U.S. Air Force has grown significantly, due to research programs with WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research – and its set to get another boost this summer.
Last week, representatives from NIAR and WSU’s College of Engineering visited the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs to brief USAFA cadets and faculty on summer internship opportunities at NIAR, specifically in the emerging field of Digital Engineering.
NIAR staff members Melinda Laubach-Hock, Shawn Ehrstein and Brian Formy-Duval; and COE faculty Scott Miller presented to and met with cadets, providing information on NIAR’s B-1 and F-16 Digital Twin programs and the COE’s advanced engineering degree options. In addition to summer internship opportunities, longer term strategic partnerships including independent learning semesters, senior capstone projects, and post-graduate studies options were also discussed.
WSU-NIAR hopes to establish and grow a thriving summer research program to host up to 30 cadets performing digital engineering tasks related to CAD/CAM, reverse engineering and sustainment. The internships will be available for USAFA cadets in aeronautical, systems, mechanical and electrical engineering, and are expected to build a workforce pipeline to future USAF program office assignments.
“NIAR is building a unique ecosystem of applied learning to support our Legacy Airframe Digital Twin programs,” said Melinda Laubach-Hock, NIAR B-1 and F-16 Digital Twin Program Director. “Extending the talent pipeline developed for Wichita State University students to Air Force Academy cadets is the next logical step.”
Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research provides research, testing, certification and training for aviation and manufacturing technologies. Established in 1985, NIAR has a +$190 million annual budget; 1,100 employees and nearly 1.6 million square feet of laboratory and office space in six locations across the city of Wichita, the Air Capital of the World. NIAR laboratories include Additive Manufacturing, Advanced Coatings, Advanced Manufacturing, Ballistics/Impact Dynamics, Composites/Advanced Materials, Crash Dynamics, Digital Twin, Engineering Design/Modification, Environmental/ Electromagnetic Test, Full-Scale Structural Test, Nondestructive Test, Reverse Engineering, Robotics/Automation, Virtual Engineering, eXtended Reality and the Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel.