December 30, 2005
Tech gets $4.5 million for projects
by Greg Esposito
New River Valley Current
The Defense Appropriations Bill passed by the U.S. Senate last week includes $4.5 million for Virginia Tech.
The funds would be split between the Global Pathogen Portal--which will receive $2 million--and $2.5 million for engineering and technology research and development.
In 2002, university staff began developing the Global Pathogen Portal, or PathPort, to help scientists access complex genetic and biological data on pathogens from around the world.
The portal also gives researchers the computer tools needed to analyze and manage the data. This research could help combat bioterrorism.
The $2.5 million in engineering and technology research would go toward development of composite structures in the U.S. Navy. Using a combination of carbon or glass fibers and polymers instead of steel to construct the hulls and decks of ships will help the Navy become more efficient, said Jack Lesko, an associate professor in Tech's department of engineering, science and mechanics.
Lesko, who said the $2.5 million is the largest grant Tech has received for this specific work, said the technology is being used in the aerospace industry.
The same technology that allows huge planes to get off the ground or helps golfers hit longer drives will allow ships to navigate relatively shallow waters, use less fuel, and significantly reduce the manpower needed on each ship. The new class of ships would also be more reliable and durable, allowing the ships to simply swap crews and go back out to sea with minimum maintenance.
"The Navy is struggling now with ideas of efficiency and reliability," Lesko said. "We're excited to be able to have this opportunity."