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University of Akron receives $2 million for graduate engineering fellowships

a photo of the University of Akron polymer building
The National Science Foundation will fund graduate level studies that integrate digital data with material science.

The University of Akron’s College of Engineering and Polymer Science has received a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The money will go toward training engineering grad students in using digital data to solve materials science problems.

Sadhan Jana is associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Polymer Science. He says one example of where this could be applied would be the development of electric vehicle transport systems.

“There is a lot of data-taking [and] artificial intelligence terminology that our graduate students do not know. And so, we are using this program to train 40 NRT [National Science Foundation Research Traineeship] fellows who would be able to understand the language of an electrical engineering colleague who is working in the same team. So, there would be seamless transfer of information from a materials scientist or a chemical engineer to an electrical engineer to a computer scientist.”

Jana adds that they’ve applied for grants from the National Science Foundation before. But this one was driven by a survey of employers conducted last year asking what they’re looking for in the next generation of engineers. The employers include partners in the new program such as NASA Glenn Research Center, Eaton Corporation, Goodyear Tire, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and Bridgestone-Firestone.

The ”traineeship” is the first such pilot program in Northeast Ohio and was developed by the school’s polymer science, computer science, education, and mechanical engineering faculty.