Month: April 2019

UTC-IASE Receives Grant For A NASA-Funded Research Project


UTC-IASE is proud to announce a new UConn project selected for funding by NASA that will focus on the design and operation of resilient deep space habits. A group of UConn researchers, along with partners from Purdue University, Harvard University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio will all be collaborating together on this project.  The UConn team, led by Dr. Ramesh Malla, a professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, includes many school of engineering professors, such as Dr. Krishna Pattipati from Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Jiong Tang from Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Song Han from Computer Sciences and Engineering, and Dr. Ashwin Dani from Electrical and Computer Engineering.


 As part of the project, all of the groups involved were selected to be a part of the New Space Technology Research Institute (STRI), which helps with NASA’s goal of creating a sustainable human presence and infrastructure on other planets outside of Earth, such as the moon, mars, and other planetary bodies. The UConn team will be specifically involved with the Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats Institute (RETHi), where they will work to design and operate resilient deep-space habitats that can adapt and sustain these harsh planetary environments, as well as recover after unexpected disruptions. This institute will receive approximately $15 million dollars, with the UConn researchers expected to receive approximately $3.25 million for their work, over a 5 year period in order to help fund the institute’s work. Professor Malla says that in order to achieve this goal, his team will focus on three main topics, which are the smart design, growth and architecture, context-based situational awareness and intelligent health management, and autonomous robotics for operation, maintenance, and recovery.


Professor Malla has been involved with space structure research for over 35 years now, and is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and also currently serves as the chair of ASCE’s Aerospace Division’s Technical Committee on Space Engineering and Construction. In conjunction with Dr. Malla’s accomplishments as well as a very experienced team from UConn, the team will work alongside RETHi to accomplish multiple key objectives from NASA. Through their project work, the team hopes to educate the next generation of engineers and scientists. They also hope to build strong partnerships with other industries and organizations across the globe, while simultaneously generating new knowledge to help guide future research development. The UConn team also plans on engaging undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students in their project, as well as utilizing partnerships between industrial partners, such as Collins Aerospace and ILC Dover.


Many UConn faculty members are excited about the university’s participation in this project, such as Dean Kazem Kazerounian, who said “This project is one in a long line of strategic research projects we have embarked on. Our inclusion in this project speaks to the strength or our faculty, and the track record of our research in this field”. Professor George Bollas, Director of the UTC-IASE, also added that “projects like the one led by Professor Mala include all the theoretical components that are at the core of the Institute’s foundation, such as robust and resilient design, operation under uncertainty, anomaly detection, accommodation and reconfiguration. We are excited to see this project produce research and talent that can lead to new technology in these areas.”

The World’s First “Manufactory 4.0” Has Been Opened in Hartford, CT


Stanley Black and Decker recently became the first company internationally to open up their brand new “Manufactory 4.0” at Constitution Plaza in Hartford, CT. This 23,000 square-foot center will serve as a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing center and training center for the company’s international industry 4.0 “smart factory” initiatives. This new facility will also help to highlight Stanley Blacker and Decker’s success with integrating industry 4.0 practices into their company’s policies, such as how they have improved communication between humans and automated technology, used interconnected systems to improve the collaboration between plants and solve problems, and utilize big data analytics to improve productivity and efficiency world-wide. Operated by a team of experts in the field, the facility not only aims to showcase the company’s continued work with integrating technologies and practices of the future into their current manufacturing technologies, but also to provide an interactive space where young professionals and younger children can see what types of career opportunities are available in advanced manufacturing.


Based in New Britain, CT, Stanley Blacker and Decker operates and maintains approximately 30 manufacturing facilities across the US, and more than 100 facilities worldwide. Out of these locations, three facilities have been designated as “lighthouse factories”, which have been working to partially implement industry 4.0 techniques into their facilities and into other technologies, such as manufacturing execution systems (MES), artificial intelligence systems, 3-D printing, and virtual reality. Now, with the opening of the new Manufactury 4.0 facility, the company plans to integrate another 25 “lighthouse facilities” into their global base by the end of the 2019 year.


The opening of the Manufactory will make Hartford the epicenter of the company’s industry 4.0 efforts. Not only will this help to integrate smart factory 4.0 technologies into Stanley Black and Decker locations world-wide, but it will also help to catalyze Connecticut’s evolution into the leading market for advanced manufacturing in the United States. A Manufactory is described as a training center, that utilizes industry 4.0 technologies such as digital thread, digital twin, IoT, ARVR and big data analytics to help connect manufacturing facilities world-wide and integrate new and innovative industrial technologies into the workforce on a united front.  Through their virtual reality techniques, the center will work to assist other facilities world-wide in adopting leading edge-technologies and ensuring that the global workforce is adequately prepared for the new industry. One of the highlights of this facility is the demo shop floor, where the all the technologies and equipment are part of the facility’s digital thread. These fully specified machines, along with are used to train operators and mechanics around the world.


Dr. Bollas and Dr. Thompson with the University of Connecticut UTC Institute of Advanced Systems Engineering attended the Stanley Black & Decker (SB&D) Manufactory Grand Opening last Thursday in Hartford with a contingent of faculty and staff from the University of Connecticut. SB&D’s CEO, Hartford’s Mayor, and Connecticut Governor Lamont all attended and spoke at the opening. This news clip captures Dr. Thompson discussing the capabilities of Infosys technologies with an Infosys representative. The Infosys technology monitors a parts orientation process and determines raw material, process, or machine errors and defects, real-time, with an intuitive, graphical user interface. The machine operator has the ability to determine problems with a better data set and with built-in AI that aids in the diagnosis of errors and faults. This data can then be used to better design the parts, improve the process and machine, or resolve supply chain quality issues.


The SB&D Grand Opening was a culmination and celebration of a multiyear effort to launch the Industry 4.0 initiative at SB&D.  The manufactory space’s purpose at this one-of-a-kind facility is to implement new augmented reality, virtual reality, AI, IoT, and Big Data technologies to support its development of digital threads and digital twins and improve product and manufacturing capabilities and efficiencies that coincides with the work being done at UTC IASE. The Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering looks forward to the opportunity to support them in this effort and to partnering with them to help make industry 4.0 a reality.

The CTIN4SPIRE Seminar Series Hosts Dr. Wolf Wadehn


On April 18th, Dr. Wolf Wadehn spoke at the weekly seminar series for the CTIN4SPIRE program. Dr. Wadehn is the Director of Engineering at TRUMPF, Inc. in Farmington, CT, where his work focuses on establishing his company’s US subsidiary as a global competence center for remote service tools, machine connectivity, and data analytics. Dr. Wadehn studied mechanical engineering at the University of Munich and Stuttgart and completed his Ph.D. thesis on adaptive structures. In 2005, he started as an engineer for TRUMPF, where he worked on numerical calculations for 5-axis laser machines until he started his management position in 2015.


In his talk entitled “Smart Factories: Industry 4.0 in Sheet Metal Manufacturing”, Dr. Wadehn explained that his intention of his presentation was to disprove that manufacturing is “slimy and greasy” and only requires mechanical engineers. TRUMPF has been a family owned business since 1923, has 73 subsidiaries, and is comprised of 13,420 employees. The company specializes in using advanced machining and special laser systems for cutting, punching, bending, welding, marking, and other industrial applications. He described the company’s core competencies, such as innovative practices utilizing laser technologies and prioritizing “speedy” innovation, to segway into current technologies in the industry and what specialized smart factories of the future may look like. He handed out samples of laser cut material to the class, and explained the process of using a laser machine to perform specific tasks, such as cutting a material like the sample, which contained intricate small features. The sheet metal cutting machine will need to operate continuously throughout the process, and if it is not running continuously, manufacturing companies can lose thousands of dollars each day or each week, so uptime is crucial.


He finalized the talk by describing how smart factories can be used to maximize efficiency of production and to minimize cost, and outlined the equipment and technologies that can be found in a smart factory. Dr. Wadehn explained seven (7) components of a smart factory: 1. Connectivity and transparency, 2. Full control of equipment, 3. Inventory management, 4. Full transparency on order status, 5. No searching times, 6. Automated transport with AGV, and 7. Remote support through experts. He used these components to illustrate how the current production practices can be improved upon. He also mentioned how smart factories create a smart material flow, which eliminates the possibility of any parts going missing.


Dr. Wadehn closed the presentation by showing an example factory of the future and described what a customer’s smart manufacturing project would look like. He explained that smart factories use innovative technologies, such as AGV systems, predictive maintenance, and advanced software to increase the efficiency of manufacturing. In addition, the integrative concepts found in these factories provide jobs for more than just mechanical engineers; this type of work requires an integrative team of engineers and non-engineers from many disciplines to help the manufacturing process run smoothly.


The CTIN4SPIRE program will be hosting two more talks this semester on Thursday April 25th  and Thursday May 2nd. To view the CTIN4SPIRE speaker series calendar and to find out more about the series click here.

Inspiring Industry 4.0 Through University-Industry Collaboration


The Connecticut Industry 4.0 Synergistic Platform for Innovation-Rich Education (CT IN4SPIRE) Program is an integrative state-wide initiative, wherein industrial experts will leverage the state’s higher-education and industrial resources to help train and prepare the future workforce and promote growth of Connecticut’s Economy. The purpose of the CTIN4SPIRE program is to utilize Connecticut’s academic and industrial resources to help prepare students, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals for the “Industry 4.0” innovations which will soon be the leading force in the near future. Participants in the program will learn how to apply the knowledge and concepts they have taken from this initiative, along with advanced digital technologies, to improve the state’s current industrial capabilities. The program will establish a revolutionary new course hosted by the University of Connecticut, where professionals in the field will instruct a weekly seminar series, focusing on new Industry 4.0 concepts and technologies. Each seminar will be live-streamed to each of the partner sites, to help connect participating companies, sites, and individuals together on one platform. The program will also feature two workshops per semester, focusing on real-time applications of I4.0 technologies and concepts, and challenge the schools, entrepreneurs, and workforce professionals to work together in project teams to tackle current obstacles in the industry. A panel of judges will select the best projects and innovative concepts, to be developed the following semester. Students will by design and prototype their solutions using UConn facilities and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology. Other project goals are to help train students in the real-world applications of advanced Industry 4.0 technologies, to catalyze industrial relationships between students and professionals, to incentivize and motivate students to join the revolutionary and innovative 21st century workforce, and to bring a sizeable change to innovation in CT’s industrial base.


The one-credit seminar course, offered as ENGR3195/ENGR5300/OPIM4895, is entitled “Industry 4.0 and Manufacturing Ingenuity” and focuses on providing students with the experience and exposure to new and emerging technologies while fostering a strong mindset of innovation and entrepreneurship in students. The course will introduce students to technologies such as automation, cyber physical systems, informatics and advanced manufacturing, and simultaneously provide students with coordinated mentorship from faculty and industry experts. The course is centered on weekly seminars and workshops where students can apply their new knowledge to current challenges in the field. Seminars will feature invited industry professionals who will introduce cutting edge technologies and challenges they face in the field. The workshops support students’ abilities to define solutions and ideas to solve these real-world challenges, where they can integrate Industry 4.0 technologies and concepts to solve industrial problems. The speaker schedule can be found below:




UTC-IASE Welcomes New Associated Faculty Member Dr. Hongyi Xu



Please join the UTC Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering in welcoming Dr. Hongyi Xu, who has recently joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an Assistant Professor. Prior to joining UConn, he worked at Ford in their Research and Advanced Engineering Department from 2014 to 2019. At Ford, he worked on many projects such as structure optimization for vehicle lightweighting, integrated computational material engineering of carbon fiber composites, lithium-ion battery impact safety, fuel cell membrane analysis, and the design of mesostructured systems for additive manufacturing. He received his B.S in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University in China, a M.S in Mechanical Engineering from Tsinghua University in China, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University in the US.

   His current research focuses on developing design optimization for the analysis and design of heterogeneous microstructural materials. His research interests also include Design for Additive Manufacturing and data mining-enhanced multi-disciplinary optimization. He is currently working on two research projects. The first project is titled “Microstructure modeling for lithium-ion battery materials”, and the second is titled “Design and uncertainty quantification of additive manufactured mesostructured-structure system”. In the past 4 years, Dr. Xu has worked on several government and private industry sponsored projects, including two Department of Energy funded projects. The first project focused on Integrated computational materials engineering for the development of carbon fiber composites of lightweight vehicles. The second grant worked towards the development and validation of a simulation tool to predict the combined structural, electrical, electrochemical and thermal responses of automotive batteries.

   In May of 2019, Dr. Xu will be traveling to Beijing to attend the World Congress of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization. There, he will be presenting on “Mesostructure Optimization for Additive Manufacturing Based on Multi-fidelity Modeling and Particle Swarm Optimization Algorithm”. In August of 2019, he will be attending the ASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conference & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, where he will be presenting on “Multi-Fidelity Variance and Sensitivity Estimators and Adaptive High-Fidelity DOE for the Design of Mesostructure-Structure Systems”.

   Dr. Xu has already had two papers published in the early months of 2019. He was one of the authors of a paper titled “Failure of chopped carbon fiber sheet molding compound (SMC) composites under uniaxial tensile loading: Computational prediction and experimental analysis”, which was published in Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing. He also was a co-author along with Liu Zhao on a paper titled “Control variate multi-fidelity estimators for the variance and sensitivity analysis of mesostructured-structure systems”, published in ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, Part B: Mechanical Engineering. Along with his papers already published, he also has two other papers that are currently under review. The first is titled “Modified multi-scale finite element method with the nodes linkage technique for predicting elastic property of metamaterials”, which in under review in Frontiers of Mechanical Engineering. The second paper is titled “Stochastic 3D Microstructure Reconstruction and Mechanical Modeling of Anisotropic Battery Separators”, under review in the Journal of Power Sources.