UTEP receives $5 million from Ministry of Energy for PRE-CCAP

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Funding to provide students with research opportunities to strengthen nuclear security

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With a five-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), student researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso Aerospace Center will engage in the nuclear materials technology research.

The award renews the Ceramics and Polymers Research and Education Partnership Consortium (PRE-CCAP).

“The continuation of PRE-CCAP means that we can provide more UTEP students with opportunities to gain meaningful experience in the field of nuclear security through collaboration with our partners across the country,” said said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., associate vice president for aerospace at UTEP. Center. “UTEP has reached this stage because of its commitment to exemplary aerospace research and work.

A university official shares that PRE-CCAP is a collaborative effort to “transform national nuclear security through scientific applications of nuclear materials by creating a pipeline for the next generation of students from El Paso and around the country”.

Yirong Lin, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, is the principal investigator of the grant. Lin, with co-PI Calvin Stewart; Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering; Choudhuri; and Norman Love, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering; lead the PRE-CCAP. The consortium partners with Florida International University (FIU), Tennessee State University (TSU), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC).

The consortium is focused on developing and sustaining a diverse, highly skilled workforce and community of technical peers from institutions serving Hispanics nationwide, historically black colleges and universities, and colleges and universities tribal.

The group’s research focuses on materials science and additive manufacturing – a standing strength of UTEP – to help DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) fulfill its core mission.

At UTEP, research focuses on the design, synthesis, and fabrication of advanced ceramics and polymers for energy applications. These applications include hydrogen fuel cells for renewable energy, thermal and radiation protection for nuclear energy, and advanced sensors for fossil energy.

FIU focuses on material characterization while TSU performs simulations and modeling. The labs provide technical advice and offer student interns concrete opportunities to carry out their work.

As part of its participation in the PRE-CCAP initiative, UTEP conducted outreach efforts at Irvin High School in northeast El Paso before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the in-person engagement.

Lin said plans are in place to resume outreach to school districts across the region with engineering programs beginning this year.

“We are building and nurturing a pipeline of highly skilled, next-generation talent for the DOE NNSA…Since we began leading this consortium, 52 UTEP students have completed internships at LANL and KCNSC, and 24 of those students have found full-time jobs at these two NNSA companies.

We are excited to have the opportunity to continue our work in advancing discovery in nuclear materials science and providing more students with impactful research experiences.

Yirong Lin, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

UTEP received the DOE’s initial $3 million award for the PRE-CCAP initiative in 2018. Since its inception, students have engaged in research opportunities at UTEP’s state-of-the-art laboratories and have completed internships and full-time employment in one of the two DOEs. national laboratories.

University officials add that these experiences have given students the skills and training needed to pursue careers in the field after graduation.

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