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Video and story: Alfred University shows Sen. Schumer ceramics can withstand NASA heat, earn $4 million investment


Sen. Charles Schumer watches as a piece of ceramics made at Alfred University is burned with a torch yet is still cool to the touch as Mark Zupan, Alfred University president, left, looks on. Photo by John Anderson.

Senate Majority Leader announces Historic investment in Alfred University by the U.S Army


When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stepped on the campus of Alfred University to announce a $4 million project for the university, he explained how things would work.

The researchers at the university then showed him how it would work.

During a tour of three floors at the McMahon Engineering Building, Sen. Schumer witnessed the ceramics made at Alfred University withstanding intense heat, yet seconds later, cool to the touch.

Sen. Schumer said that technology at Alfred University will be used by NASA on future Space Shuttles as well as manufacturing materials as the United State competes with China with hypersonics.

“Alfred has been awarded a first of its kind, $4 million project, partnered with the United States Army to help us win the global race in hypersonics,” Sen. Schumer said.

However, he also singled out the staff and administration at the college.

“Let me just say first, Alfred is really a treasure, of course for Allegany County and the Southern Tier, but it’s also a treasure for all of America,” Schumer said. “Because of the kind of research and expertise on ceramics is unique, and as we learn more and more as we develop in more ways the technology that these kinds of expertise are vital to the future prosperity and national security of our country. I thank everyone here (at Alfred University).”

(Below is a video, his press release and a photo gallery from the Hornell Sun on the visit)

Watch as Sen. Schumer sees first hand Alfred University ceramics withstanding the extreme heat needed for NASA and manufacturing products. Video by John Anderson.

Funding Represents One Of The Largest Single Investment Ever By The Feds In Alfred University Research; Alfred Is One Of The Only Facilities In The Country With The Technology And Expertise To Make These Scientific Break Throughs

Hypersonic Weapons Are A Growing Threat – Rapidly Being Developed By China & Russia – And Travel At Such High Speeds That Temps Can Reach Over 3000 Degrees, But U.S. Lacks The Materials Like Ceramic Composites That Can Take The Heat

Following his direct advocacy, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer today stood with Southern Tier scientists to announce that the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bill added $4 million to advanced ceramics material research, supporting Alfred University’s cutting-edge research in developing ultra-high temperature ceramic (UHTC) material for the U.S. Army. Schumer led the efforts in the appropriations bill to secure the funding for Alfred. Schumer explained that UHTC ceramics are critical to our national security especially as foreign powers, like Russia and China, are investing heavily in research for hypersonic vehicles like missiles. Schumer said that this funding will help expand Alfred University’s ceramics materials science education and research and help recruit more students to its program bolstering this cutting-edge Southern Tier innovation. Alfred University is a leader in advanced ceramics research and ceramic engineering, as one of the only schools in the nation that has a rigorous ceramics-engineering program. As a result, Alfred is uniquely positioned to partner with Army researchers to develop ceramics technology to strengthen our national security in the growing hypersonic race.

Senator Schumer speaks with Allegany County Legislators Brooke Harris and Jim Rumfelt looking on

“Alfred University will soon be a kiln of innovation for the U.S. Army to help us win the global hypersonic race. I am proud to have secured this significant award to help turn up the heat on Alfred’s ceramics program and expand this already nationally recognized science and education program,” said Senator Schumer. “This research can only be done with expertise and facilities we have here in Allegany County and is going to help us stay ahead in the defense industry, strengthen our national defense, all while creating the next generation of the Southern Tier’s scientific workforce.”

“We are deeply grateful to Senator Schumer for his support of this project,” said Mark Zupan, Alfred University president. “This partnership with the Army Research Laboratory affirms Alfred University’s standing as a leader in ultra-high temperature ceramic materials research.”

“This has the potential to be one of the most significant research awards Alfred University has ever landed,” said Gabrielle Gaustad, Dean of Alfred University’s Inamori School of Engineering. “The resources provided by this collaboration could change the trajectory of our ceramic engineering and materials science programs in very exciting ways.” 

This partnership between Alfred University and the U.S. Army will identify key objectives in the ceramics space to better understand the impacts of hypersonic technology. This work will include developing new ceramic materials required by the Army for extreme environments, investigating innovative processing methods to allow ceramic technology to withstand ultra-high temperatures radiated from hypersonic tech, and to develop breakthrough advanced novel materials and techniques for future ultra-high temperature ceramics technology. All of these are critical objectives for the U.S. Army to better prepare the country for the future of hypersonics, led by the Southern Tier’s Alfred University.

Schumer explained that due to their high-temperature performance, toughness, and lightweight, ceramic materials are a necessary component of systems being developed by the Army. The research at Alfred University will focus on conducting high temperature characterization of UHTC materials used in defense systems to improve performance.  These materials must be able to withstand the extreme temperatures that result from traveling at speeds greater than Mach 5. This research and development is are of particular need for countering hypersonic vehicles used in weapons systems being developed internationally—particularly those originating in China and Russia— that represent a growing threat to our national security. The $4 million in federal funding represents one of the largest research allocations Alfred University has ever received from the federal government for a single project.

Schumer has been a leading champion for promoting increases for scientific research at the federal level. In his Chips and Science Bill, that was just signed into law this week, Schumer secured historic increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research and Development Programs, including investment for a new technology directorate as proposed in Schumer’s original bipartisan Endless Frontier Act, and STEM education and training programs. Schumer said the Southern Tier top research schools like Alfred University, Binghamton University, Cornell, and others would be able to tap the increased investment for the NSF. Plus, Community colleges like SUNY Corning would also be able to utilize new investment for workforce training, especially for the manufacturing industry.

Photo gallery below

Photo gallery by John Anderson:

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