CU faculty lead $7 million initiative aimed at military vehicle safety

University of Colorado Boulder engineering faculty are leading a $7.2 million multidisciplinary research initiative on soil blast modeling and simulation for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The research, which starts this month, is aimed at creating a more accurate representation of the impact of buried landmines and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, on light-armored military vehicles so that the vehicles can be better designed to withstand such blasts.

The award is administered by the Office of Naval Research as part of the defense department's competitive Multi-University Research Initiative or MURI program, which supports basic science and engineering research at U.S.universities related to long-term national security needs.

MURI awards are provided to accelerate progress in cutting-edge research areas by supporting multidisciplinary teams with larger and longer awards than other DOD research programs.

The grant will provide $4.2 million to CU-Boulder and $3 million to co-investigators at four other institutions. The other schools involved are the University of California, Berkeley; University of Texas at Dallas; University of Tennessee Knoxville; and the University of Utah.

Richard Regueiro, assistant professor in CU-Boulder's Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, is the principal investigator. CU-Boulder professors Ronald Pak, John McCartney and Stein Sture of civil engineering, and Oleg Vasilyev of mechanical engineering, also are involved.

The research initiative will involve experiments using CU-Boulder's large 400-g ton geotechnical centrifuge coupled with computational modeling. The objective is to develop and validate a model that accurately represents explosive blasts of varying charges, depths and soil types.

CU-Boulder's proposal was one of 27 MURI awards made to academic institutions in different topical areas in 2011. The proposals, which are being funded with a total of $191 million over five years, were selected from a field of 332 proposals, including 17 on the topic of soil blast modeling and simulation.

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