U.Va. Engineering School Secures Three MURI Grants from Department of Defense

March 21, 2007 -- The University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science has won three of the 36 program awards from the highly competitive federal Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Program. The awards will bring in almost $20 million in funding over the next five years.
MURI is a multi-agency program overseen by the Department of Defense comprising three awarding offices: the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The purpose of the program is to support multidisciplinary research projects at U.S. universities that have potential both for defense and for commercial applications.
The U.Va. programs funded by the MURI awards will develop nanotechnology-enhanced cooling of higher-power microelectronic systems, explore an integrated cellular materials approach to force protection, and devise a method to allow information systems to self-regenerate in response to unforeseen errors and/or attacks.
“This is a remarkable accomplishment for the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the University,” said James H. Aylor, dean of the Engineering School. “MURI awards are extremely competitive, and receiving just one in a year is a major accomplishment. Having three of our proposals funded speaks both to the quality of the research being done at U.Va.’s Engineering School as well as to the fact that the research is highly applicable.”

The principal investigators for the three programs are John C. Knight, professor of computer science; Pamela M. Norris, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Haydn N. Wadley, University Professor in materials science.

In each instance, the principal investigator will lead teams of researchers from other universities.

Knight’s team features members from the University of New Mexico, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of California at Davis as well as Jack Davidson, David Evans, Anh Nguyen-Tuong and Westley Weimer. The project will develop the Helix security architecture for proactively defending computer systems against sophisticated and determined attackers by dynamically monitoring executions and unpredictably reconfiguring software components to dramatically increase the difficulty required for an attacker to compromise or degrade the system.

Norris will head a multidisciplinary, multi-university team with members from Arizona State, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois and Rensselaer Polytechnic University. The project’s objective is to reduce chip temperatures in large-scale and high-heat-flux complex electronic systems using microfabrication, nanotechnology and modern systems control strategies that will be applied for the first time to heat conduction and multi-phase heat transfer problems. 
The group led by Wadley, including researchers from M.I.T., the University of California at Santa Barbara, Harvard and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, will establish new concepts to protect vehicles from explosive devices.
The MURI program supports multidisciplinary research in areas that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering field. The awards are for up to five years — a three-year base period with a two-year option. Proposals were solicited in 29 topics important to the Department of Defense, and the winning proposals were selected for funding based on merit review by panels of experts in the pertinent science and engineering fields.