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Mechanical and Aerospace engineering professor James Manimala awarded the DARPA Young Faculty Award
(STILLWATER, Okla., October 11, 2016) – James Manimala, Ph.D. and assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was awarded the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award. This award is for a $498,000 two-year base project with a possibility of a $500,000 follow-on director’s fellowship.
Manimala’s high-impact research on acoustic metamaterials, which are artificial materials with unsual properties not seen in natural materials, stood out nationally for this very competitive award. A key focus of his research is on enhancing the dynamic performance of engineering structures and systems by utilizing novel confluences of designs, materials and processes. As part of this DARPA project, Manimala will explore metamaterials-inspired emergent dynamic phenomena including nonlinear ‘assonance,’ microscale inertance and the interplay between them in order to enable the next generation of MEMS devices. Potential applications include vibration and shock isolation of sensitive electronics, broadband transduction and energy harvesting, frequency manipulation, wave steering and focusing, and amplitude-triggered mechanical encryption, all of which are significantly aligned with defense-related interests.
Manimala got the idea of optimizing structures through poetry. Manimala explains, “assonance is used in poetry to impart an internal rhythm and overall lyrical quality to verses in order to lend a specific mood to them. Now I use the same idea to create something called mechanical assonance. The phenomenon of effecting desired modifications to an incoming spectrum propagating through a host structure using a tailored sequence of engineered local features such that the overall outcome is dictated by the influence of preceding features on the spectrum encountered by succeeding features.”
Apart from research, Manimala spends a considerable amount of time with undergraduate students. He teaches dynamics at the sophomore level where he encourages students to get involved in undergraduate research. He has mentored two Wentz undergraduate research scholars and has also worked with an undergraduate student who is an US army veteran. Parallel to research, Manimala encourages students to learn computer-aided engineering tools and keep abreast of the latest developments in their field.
Manimala explains, “I want my students to learn holistically, gaining professional competence and transferrable skills while maintaining the ethics and morals to conduct ‘honest research’. I hope my students benefit just much as I benefitted from my professors from when I was a student”.
The objective of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) program is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions and introduce them to Department of Defense needs as well as DARPA’s program development process.
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