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UT-ORNL Governor's Chair of Advanced and Nanostructured Materials Rigoberto Advincula standing among lab equipment

Material Support

Advincula’s Research Delivers Breakthroughs, Develops Students

By David Goddard. Photography by Carlos Jones of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy.

It’s no secret that the worlds of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing have taken monumental leaps in just a relatively few years over the last decade or so.

As specialized materials have become adopted for more uses and in more processes, the need for them has risen.

Enter CEE’s Rigoberto Advincula, UT–ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced and Nanostructured Materials.

Advincula, who specializes in the development of new materials, is tackling a specific stumbling block related to them through a project that spans several universities.

“Honeywell is a multinational corporation with a reach and interest in a wide-ranging array of areas,” he said. “They do a lot of work in research and development of new materials. One particular issue that they are seeking to accomplish is the creation of materials that can survive in a high-temperature, high-pressure environment and that last a long time, like 50 years or more.”

As might be expected, taking on a task of that scale requires several researchers to focus on tasks of their own that, when taken together across a broad scope, help achieve the overall goals of the project.

In addition to Advincula, CBE Professor Michael Kilbey, MABE Associate Professor Brett Compton, and Chemistry Professor Mark Dadmun are taking part in the research. Texas A&M University, Case Western Reserve University, Virginia Tech, and Arizona State University are all also contributing to the overall effort.

Together the team will develop new materials and manufacturing methods. They even plan to build out a workforce development component to train people to produce the things they create.

Advincula was also involved in securing a grant that established programs focused on additive manufacturing and the development of polymer materials.

“It’s an open-access course that was funded for two years at $100,000 a year, but it could continue if we meet the goals we have set,” he said. “These areas are important ones from a national security and defense standpoint, so we’ve developed the course to be in line with those needs.”

Outside of his research interests, Advincula is keen to provide a top-notch education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He helped open a 3D printing lab specific to the department, providing CBE students a dedicated space just that allows them to explore the latest in additive manufacturing and polymer development.

He notes that he had three undergraduate students place in the top six spots of a recent Center for Materials Processing poster competition at UT, including overall winner Justin Edaugal.

It’s just another sign of the support that Advincula gives—to his students and the nation.