Facilities and Research Laboratories
Research carried out by COE faculty is often coordinated with several Research Centers on campus. A brief description of some of the facilities available to COE faculty and students is provided below.
Electronics Manufacturing Systems Laboratory (EMSL)
The Electronics Manufacturing Systems Laboratory (EMSL) was established in 2011 in cooperation with the UAH College of Business's Center for Management and Economic Research and the ISEEM department. The EMSL was made possible with the donation of a $2 million surface-mount circuit board assembly line to UAH that included a modern screen printing machine (MPM), three placement machines, and a 10-zone reflow over (Rehm) which can provide accurate reflow profiles for most any surface-mount application. The lab has produced circuit boards for local groups including the U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, prototype sensors for ECE senior design projects, UAH engineering faculty in the MAE and ECE departments and a source for academic course include Electronic Manufacturing. The lab is also intended to provide the foundation for future collaboration with Auburn University's Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics (CAVE3) a National Science Foundation Center.
Autonomous Tracking Optical Measurement Laboratory (ATOM)
The ATOM laboratory provides high-speed, low-latency real-time three-dimensional tracking of objects moving freely in a 50' x 30' x 12' unobstructed volume. Thirty-three Vicon T40 infrared cameras can track 50 unique objects at up to 370 frames per second with a latency of 5 milliseconds, and a spatial resolution of 1.5 mm. The ATOM lab allows testing and analysis of systems in disciplines as diverse as robotics, biomimetics, human factors engineering, and virtual engineering. The facility allows freedom to test and analyze whatever can be built. Advanced Robotics Laboratory: Research in this laboratory leads to the development of hardware and software systems required for control of groups of autonomous vehicles, designed to operate cooperatively. This facility includes model autonomous boats, helicopters, mobile robots, underwater robots, robotic arms, and humanoids. Applications include military systems, and systems for geophysical survey, and for patrol of underwater pipelines and land power lines.
High Performance Technical Computing System (HPTC)
The High Performance Technical Computing facility located in the College of Engineering is a system controlled by a single PowerEdge R710 master node with 12 Dell PowerEdge M600 series blade servers. Each blade features Intel 2 x 6 core processors with 48GB of memory for a total of 144 CPU cores, and 576GB of memory available for computations. The system uses a high speed Mellanox QDR InfiniBand 40 Gb/s network for MPI traffic between nodes and has 18TB (17TB usable) disk space storage in the attached storage unit. All together, the HPTC cluster compute nodes provide an actual output of 1.35 Tflops (1012) trillion floating point operations per second. For comparison, the average modern desktop computer will average between 10 and 60 GFlops (109) or billion floating point operations per second. In 2013, a Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) equipped compute node and a second M1000e blade chassis has been added, providing the system with a 50% increase in computing power and a 200% increase in storage.
Real-time Physiological Monitoring Laboratory
The Real-time Physiological Monitoring Lab is run collaboratively by COE and the College of Nursing at UAH. The Laboratory integrates: Beat-by-beat non-invasive blood pressure monitor Nexfin from Bmeye, Bedside monitor Dash 3000 from GE Health, Physiology Suite from Thought Technology, Hidalgo Equivital physiological monitors, Zephyr BioHarness physiological monitors, and custom sensors developed at UAH. The Laboratory allows a comprehensive evaluation of activity of the heart, brain, muscles, blood oxygen saturation, and autonomic nervous system using state-of-the-art sensors and monitoring equipment. Custom developed software integrates data from individual devices and automatically store time-stamped data into unanimous research databases to protect the privacy of subjects.
Heat Transfer and Two-Phase Flow Laboratory
This laboratory includes instrumented millimeter-scale and micron-scale flow facilities designed to study the fundamentals of heat transfer into highly confined two-phase flows. Instrumentation includes temperature measurement via digital liquid crystal thermography and high-speed video imaging.
Center for Applied Optics (CAO)
The Center for Applied Optics (CAO) advances optical science and engineering research and development in support of high technology educational, industrial and government interests and requirements. The center includes eleven faculty and staff, with twenty-three affiliated faculty and staff from UAH's academic departments. The CAO provides optical and optomechanical design and analysis, optical fabrication including diamond turning and both standard and CNC polishing, optical metrology, holography, and testing and prototyping of state-of-the-art optical components and systems. Center researchers are exploring unique applications of optics for numerous space, military and industrial uses. The CAO is located in the Optics Building comprised of four floors, a building within a building, with the central core of laboratories vibration isolated from the external office and student space. The building includes space for Nano and Micro Devices Laboratory.
Propulsion Research Center (PRC)
The Propulsion Research Center (PRC) conducts research and mentors students in advanced propulsion technologies and their applications. State-of-the-art laboratories housed in the Johnson Research Center include a vacuum chamber test lab, a plasma-enhanced combustion facility, gaseous cold flow lab, water tunnel flow lab, and a thermal stability test lab. The PRC laboratories provide detailed assessments of liquid, solid, electric, and air-breathing propulsion devices – including cryogenic propellants. Applications beyond propulsion include energy research for commercial and space applications.
Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator
A team of researchers from UAH, The Boeing Company, and Marshall Space Flight Center are engaged in repurposing a facility originally built for nuclear weapons research into a test facility for a spacecraft propulsion system based on nuclear fusion. Charger-1 is located in the Aerophysics Research Center on Redstone Arsenal. The 50-ton device will produce a powerful, but extremely brief, pulse of plasma created by an equally brief nuclear fusion reaction. An engine producing these pulses could reduce a trip to Mars from six months to six weeks.
Structural Composites Laboratory
The Structural Composites Laboratory is designed to adequately support research in the behavior and manufacturing of advanced fiber composites and cementitious composite materials. The laboratory comprises storage facilities for aggregate, sand, cement, and steel, carbon, aramid and glass fibers, several conventional and special-purpose concrete mixers, and a climate control chamber. In terms of testing, the laboratory possesses 2 MTS servohydraulic material test systems with closed-loop capacity and a high load capacity Forney testing machine. Data acquisition is performed using several modern computer-driven systems. The Structural Composites Laboratory conducts research on the fundamental behavior, analysis, design, processing, fabrication, and testing of advanced composite materials and structures. The broad areas of research conducted at the laboratory are fatigue and fracture of composites, sustainable composites for structural applications, and the interfacial bond strength between composites and concrete substrate.
Materials Laboratory in Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
This teaching laboratory facility is used to introduce students to standard laboratory experiments to evaluate physical and mechanical properties of various Civil Engineering materials. These laboratory exercises are supportive to the lecture material in the Civil Engineering Materials course (CE 380). The laboratory is equipped with: a compression testing machine fitted with digital load monitor, cement mortar mixer, cement mortar molds, Blaine air permeability apparatus, Vicat apparatus, asphalt penetrometer, sieves sets and mechanical shakers, unit weight test sets, specific gravity test sets, concrete vibrator, slump test sets, air content test sets, curing tank, electric water bath, electric programmable oven, rebound hammer, alkali-silica reactivity test set, manual Marshall compaction test set, and digital loading system for Marshal tests.
Langmuir-Blodgett Deposition Laboratory (EB 140)
Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) depositions are performed in a 612D Nima Technology trough. The trough is enclosed within a Sterilgard III Advance Class II Laminar Flow cabinet. One PC is used for surface pressure measurement, barrier and dipping control, and data acquisition for the LB trough. Another PC is used for the image analysis experiments. The rest of the LB equipment includes temperature controllers and peripheral equipment associated with LB depositions. For rheological measurements there is a Mechanical Spectrometer RMS 605 from Rheometrics Scientific. The RMS has a T-10 (10 gr-cm) and a T-100 (100 gr-cm) transducers as well as a variety of cone and plate and parallel plate arrangements. The system is computer controlled and uses the latest version of Orchestrator-SW, the data-acquisition and control software from Rheometrics. Interfacial properties and contact angles are measured with great precision using pendant drop and sessile drop visualization techniques as well as our own GUI and software for image capturing and interfacial tension determination.
Transport Properties Measurement Laboratory (vBRC)
Measurement of transport properties in complex mixtures as well as transport properties in microgravity are part of ongoing research on materials with NASA-MSFC. There is a system for measurement of Thermal Diffusivities as well as a complete system for measuring Mass Diffusivities. There is a Vapor Crystal Growth System and a Thermal imaging system associated to it. This complete testing facility includes electrical furnaces with large processing capacity at high temperatures, and mechanical material testing facilities.
Catalysis and Reaction Engineering (EB 244 and 252)
The catalysis laboratory (EB 244) is a 1200 sq. ft laboratory designated for heterogeneous catalysis that has been developed over the last 12 years. This laboratory has been equipped using contracts and grants funding from NSF, DOE, ARI, Lockheed Martin and UAH. It has facilities for the study of direct coal liquefaction, biological analysis and heterogeneous gas phase reactions over bulk or supported metal catalysts. Some equipment includes: a fully instrumented 1 liter Autoclave Engineers mixed reactor with magnetic drive; fluidized sand bath with plunge micro-reactors; tubular reactors in controlled furnaces; an HP 5890 gas chromatograph complete with FID and TCD detectors; associated capillary and packed columns, and auto sampling; rotary evaporator; solvent extractors; and ultra filtration. EB 252 contains a reduction furnace, high vacuum faculties, and wet lab facilities that support catalysis design.
Laser Diagnostic Laboratory for Hypergolic Combustion (EB 149, 149a)
The laboratory was developed over a 15 year period with support from AMCOM, ARO, AMRDEC and various companies. This laboratory contains two optics tables, two spectrometers with optical multi-channel analyzers, two Argon-Ion high energy lasers, pulse Nd/YAG laser with associated dye laser, three high speed oscilloscopes and several computers for data acquisition and control. It also has its own network computer for defense relate work. It is currently configured for ITAR studies of proprietary and commercially available rocket fuels used in military applications. Other facilities include wireless communication laboratory, integrated biometrics laboratory, control and dynamics systems laboratory, MEMS fabrication technology laboratory, a full-service machine shop, etc.