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UCF awarded a total of $1 million in SEED Funding awards to 32 research teams, three of which include MAE faculty. This is the third year the program has been available to faculty.

The program, a result of a collaboration between the Office of Research and the Office of the Provost, is aimed at facilitating research, which is likely to attract external funding while enhancing the visibility of UCF.

A total of $1 million in SEED funding was awarded in two categories: Exploratory Research Awards (ER1) and Interdisciplinary Awards (IR). ER1 is for those projects that initiate new high-risk, high-reward activities, which will strengthen faculty credentials and make them more competitive by allowing them to collect preliminary data appropriate to their discipline prior to submission of external grant funding applications. IR awards are meant to encourage new or expanding interdisciplinary teams to engage in convergence activities that lead to externally funded, large grant proposals requiring preliminary data and proof of established multi-PI engagement. This category promotes research that can only be achieved through collaboration.

Kawai Kwok
Kawai Kwok

Exploratory Research Awards (ER1)

More than 50 applications were received for ER1 and 23 were selected, including one from MAE:

Kawai Kwok
College of Engineering and Computer Science
In-Space Manufacturing of Large Composite Structural Architectures

In-space manufacturing could greatly expand the capabilities of NASA and U.S. Space Force missions. However, this requires special materials that can withstand the deep-space environment. Kwok will use the SEED funding to develop a novel composite raw material and its processing method to be used for on-demand fabrication, repair and recycling in space. The results obtained will pave the way for in-space design and manufacturing of large complex structures based on the conductive composite.

Joon Park
Joon Park

Interdisciplinary Awards (IR)

More than 23 applications were received for IR awards and nine were awarded. Two of the interdisciplinary teams include three MAE researchers:

Ladda Thiamwong, Joon-Hyuk Park, David Fukuda and Rui Xie
College of Nursing, College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Health Professions and Sciences, and College of Sciences
Development of Light Physical Activity (LPA) Guidelines for Safe and Effective Physical Activity Intervention in Ethnically Diverse Older Adults

Older adults can benefit from light-intensity physical activity (LPA), which they can get from mowing the lawn, vacuuming the house, or taking a slow walk around the neighborhood. But there currently aren’t any guidelines on how or if LPA should be recommended. The UCF team will measure the correlation between LPA and health-related performance and outcomes versus moderate or high-intensity activity, while taking in consideration an individual’s aerobic capacity and health conditions. The goal is to develop LPA guidelines for feasible, safe and effective physical activity targets for diverse older adults.

Park, whose research focuses on wearable robotics and assistive devices, will coordinate the project, particularly the instrumentation, data process and analysis of wearable sensors to be used in the research.

Jan Gou

Jihua Gou, Subith Vasu and Artem Masunov
College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, College of Sciences, Institute for Simulation and Training, and NanoScience Technology Center
Ultra-High Temperature Ablative Composites for Thermal Protection Systems in Extreme Environments

Spacecraft that travel to outer space require thermal protection systems that can shield the exterior of the vehicle from the extreme heat of the atmosphere. This research team will explore the use of a thin material to develop a light-weight composite thermal protection system that is highly efficient, cost effective, and flexible in design. The material of focus is buckypaper, a very thin sheet of nanotubes that is 50,000 times smaller than a strand of human hair. The group will investigate the mechanical integrity of the material, and they plan to develop an innovative method to manufacture it.

Gou will uncover the design and performance of the material while Vasu will study its surface boundary reaction in his laboratory’s shock tube.

“The team has complimentary expertise to carry out this really challenging research work,” Gou said. “We look forward to turning our idea into reality starting from this UCF seed grant.”