Rolla, Mo. — The University of Missouri-Rolla has been awarded a $7.3 million federal contract to develop aerospace technologies as a partner with Boeing Co.
The contract, the largest in the Rolla campus' history, is with the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday.
The university will use the grant to create a center for aerospace manufacturing technologies that will employ 29 faculty members and about 50 graduate students.
Boeing Phantom Works, the Chicago-based company's research and development arm, will be a subcontractor and receive about 20 percent of the contract, said Ming Leu, the faculty member in charge of the contract. Boeing is expected to help with testing and to offer the use of labs in St. Louis.
"Boeing will define the needs for research, what the needs of the industry are, so that we are not sitting in this ivory tower and doing things that nobody wants," Leu said.
The contract will involve such projects as manufacturing of complex elements from one piece of metal instead of welding several elements together. Another project will look at alternatives to airplane chrome coating, which is considered damaging to the environment.
The grant is for about two years, but the university hopes to continue the project at least five to 10 years. The preliminary research is to be done July 2006.