The Center For Integration of Composites into Infrastructure

 

History of the Center

In 2009, the Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure (CICI) was formally established, upon receiving approval from the National Science Foundation (NSF), as an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC). CICI started as a collaborative effort between West Virginia University (WVU) and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (RU), but during the planning stages, NSF recognized the value of incorporating the graduating I/UCRC "Repair of Buildings and Bridges with Composites (RB2C)." Thus two other universities, North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the University of Miami (UM) became a part of CICI at its inception. This multi-university partnership provided a synergistic element to CICI, enhancing expertise in conventional and advanced composite materials and systems development and further enhancing the research capabilities of CICI while attaining broader support from industry members. CICI was originally funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which resulted in all five years of Phase 1 funding being awarded upfront.

The recruitment of members was rather difficult for most sites initially, though by the fifth year, all but one site had exceeded the NSF membership criteria. Rutgers decided not to be part of Phase 2 of the center, but WVU, NCSU, and UM have demonstrated that the I/UCRC model can work in the civil infrastructure area and recently Nanjing Tech University and University of Texas at Arlington also joined the center which has provided even more access to research and growth opportunities. After successful completion of Phase 1, CICI received Phase 2 support from NSF as the infrastructure industries continue their economic recovery. The main purpose of this CICI effort is aimed at continuing and expanding the NSF I/UCRC objectives by seeking funds from NSF to continue research and development with respect to: 1) improve/advance the state of the art in key areas of FRP composites including field implementation with financial help from industry and government agencies; 2) manage the center in order to accomplish the above objectives; 3) promote additional participation by both industry and government agencies; and 4) aid in the inclusion of additional universities, especially minority-serving institutions.

What is an NSF I/UCRC?

The Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRCs) program of the Natural Science Foundation (NSF) aims: 1) to develop long-term partnerships among industry, academe, and government; 2) to promote research and development programs of mutual interest, and 3) to enhance the intellectual capacity of the engineering workforce through the integration of research and education. NSF provides limited budget for the operation and management of the centers while the research components of the centers are primarily supported by industry members, with NSF taking a supporting role in their development and evolution. I/UCRCs stimulate highly leveraged industry/university cooperation by focusing on fundamental and applied research recommended by Industrial Advisory Boards (IAB).

The National Science Foundation's I/UCRC program has become the premier example of how to effectively enable partnerships between universities and industries utilizing pooled research funding. I/UCRCs feature industrially relevant research based on strong industrial support and collaboration, thus enabling direct technology transfer of university ideas.

Focus of the Center

The focus of CICI is on innovation and mass-production of advanced polymer composite structural materials, components and sub-systems with a goal of integrating them into civil infrastructural systems including substructures that rest within the ground. To accomplish this, four specific objectives were established and these are:

i) Research: The center conducts fundamental research that benefits both the composites and construction industries, and end users. This includes assessing the bond and corrosion resistance of coated rebar, the development of a knowledge base overview of the current understanding on the aging and durability of composite materials, and expanding the applications of composites into geoinfrastructure needs, and studying the sustainable and life cycle cost benefits of using the composites in place of traditional materials.

ii) Development: The center is working to develop durable, cost-effective composite products, including carbon FRP strands, to strengthen concrete-steel composite beams, non-corrosive composite systems for waterway infrastructure, modular housing/wall systems, and fabric- reinforced cementitious matrix composites. The overarching development goal during Phase 2 is to facilitate the opening of new markets to replace conventional materials with composites on a high volume/ and low cost basis by closely working with the IAB members.

iii) Implementation and Evaluation: CICI is working closely with industry partners to implement the research and development efforts of projects primarily through standard and specification development. CICI is working with ACI and ASTM technical committees for the development of guides, testing and standard specifications. Similarly, CICI is contributing to the development of "Acceptance Criteria" with the International Code Council - Evaluation Service. The CICI, with the support of IAB, has been planning to undertake work on the evaluation of FRP composites during manufacturing and field performance applications. Phase 1 work primarily focused on the development of a non-destructive testing and evaluation manual and the evaluation of FRPs during fire exposure. Future work includes sensor instrumentations in real field applications that will provide continuous field data collection, which can be used for durability evaluations.

iv) Education and Training: The center is working to provide educational resources and training to enhance and further the implementation of polymer composites into infrastructure and industry. By providing short courses, educational modules, seminars, online training, and access numerous online publications, CICI hopes to provide invaluable training and information on composites in an effort to increase their implementation.

CICI will achieve the above objectives by expanding the engagement of government agencies and private industry partners through field applications. Phase 2 will include a strong push to develop sites that will focus on composite applications in geoinfrastructure, as well as to recruit foreign sites, increase government funding through industry participation and increase minority school participation.

CICI Milestones

Phase 1- 2009
IAB Meeting (Morgantown, WV) - November 12-13, 2009
IAB Meeting (National Harbor, MD) - June 2, 2010
IAB Meeting (Fort Lauderdale, FL) - February 1, 2011
IAB Meeting (Raleigh, NC) - June 28, 2011
IAB Meeting (Coral Gables, FL) - January 18, 2012
IAB Meeting (Morgantown, WV) - June 28, 2012
IAB Meeting (Orlando, FL) - January 29, 2013
IAB Meeting (Pittsburgh, PA) - August 6, 2013
IAB Meeting (Ashburn, VA) - January 16-17, 2014
International Site in Nanjing Tech University (Nanjing, China), approved by NSF - June 4, 2014
IAB Meeting (Nanjing, China) - October 29-30, 2014

Phase 2- 2014
IAB Meeting (Coraopolis, PA) - July 16-17, 2015
IAB Meeting (Coral Gables, FL) - February 22-23, 2016
IAB Meeting (Arlington, TX) - October 2016
IAB Meeting (Morgantown, WV) - May 18-19, 2017
IAB Meeting (Orlando, FL) - December 11, 2017
IAB Meeting (Raleigh, NC) - June 20-12,  2018

Center Structure and Operations

CICI is ultimately under the leadership of Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at West Virginia University (WVU Research Corporation) who oversees the development and operation of CICI in terms of institutional and legal supports.
   
West Virginia University is the lead site with North Carolina State University (NCSU), the University of Miami (UM) and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) serving as a partner universities. Dr. Hota GangaRao is the center director and manages the overall operation of the center. Dr. Ruifeng liang serves as Innovative Managing Director to operate the center in a cohesive manner and market the center nationally and internationally. Site directors, Dr. Udaya Halabe (WVU), Dr. Sami Rizkalla (NCSU), Dr. Antonio Nanni (UM) and Dr. Anand Puppala (UTA) are responsible for research conducted at each university and conduct administration as per university guidelines. CICI falls under the auspices of West Virginia University's Constructed Facilities Center (CFC), also under the leadership of Dr. Hota GangaRao.
   
An Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) has been established to facilitate industry partnerships and to advise the center on all aspects of operations, including strategic planning and research assessment. One of the primary roles of the IAB is to ensure that the research and development conducted at each university is in line with industry and government objectives. The current chair of the IAB is Dustin Troutman from Creative Pultrusions, a CICI Member since 2010. More detailed information about the IAB is available under the Industrial Advisor Board tab.

Funding

Membership fees are the primary funding mechanism for research, development and education undertaken by CICI. The NSF provides direct funding to each university for up to five years, and offers the potential of additional support for specific endeavors. The center is expected to be sustained by industry. Yearly membership fees in CICI are $50,000 for full members with special services testing, $40,000 for full members, and $15,000 for associate members.