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University of Akron’s polymer school awarded $1.25M as part of Air Force Research contract


The University of Akron’s (UA) School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is taking part in a program to train future engineers that is worth nearly $30 million.

UA will join with other Ohio universities to be part of the newly named Assured Digital Microelectronics Education & Training Ecosystem (ADMETE). The $29.75-million contract was awarded to Wright State University by the U.S. Air Force in early September and seeks to develop a pipeline of trained undergraduate engineering students with the skills to design and develop digital microelectronic devices and systems. It is a joint partnership between Wright State University, Youngstown State University, University of Toledo, Ohio University, Lorain County Community College and UA.

The electronics inside a microprocesser

With the funding, UA will conduct research into assured and trustworthy microelectronics. Students learn about electronics using circuit boards, like the one above.

Dr. Kevin Cavicchi, professor of polymer engineering, is leading the effort at UA.

“We are perfectly positioned for this project given our expertise in providing students with an education that teaches circuits and electronics,” says Cavicchi. “The funding will allow us to enhance undergraduate engineering degree programs that emphasize electronics and allow students to specialize.”

Dr. Kevin Cavicchi

The University of Akron currently incorporates aspects of flexible and rigid microelectronics in its electrical engineering, computer engineering, and electrical engineering technology undergraduate programs and the polymer program. With this new funding, UA will enhance the existing curriculum, collaborate with academic partners to design a program that complements its offerings, build industrial partnerships for co-op/internship opportunities, create new lab spaces, and conduct research into assured and trustworthy microelectronics solutions.

UA will receive $1.25 million during the first year of this grant.

According to the Department of Defense, commercial state-of-the-art foundries for defense-related, application-specific integrated circuit development may not meet security and trusted computing requirements. The U.S. Air Force, under the direction of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is working to ensure that microelectronics systems from commercial foundries are trusted, assured and protected.  Meeting the demand requires a thriving workforce of analog and digital design engineers with expertise in assured and trusted microelectronic systems. The Air Force says current academic programs across the country are not meeting this need.

The program is being managed by Wright State under the direction of Vance Saunders, director of Wright State’s cybersecurity program in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“This program will be a really great opportunity to reach out to students and let them know about the exciting opportunities in the field of digital microelectronics,” says Cavicchi.

Media contact: Alex Knisely, 330-972-6477 or