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Batten College of Engineering and Technology Receives $1.3 Million Grant from the U.S. Navy

By Keith Pierce

The Batten College of Engineering and Technology recently received a $1.3 million grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to educate a new generation of engineers on the needs of the U.S. Navy. Through hands-on learning, the three-year grant will focus on solving real maritime challenges faced by the Navy in Hampton Roads.

The project, "Rapid Solutions Learning-Projects Program (RSLRP)," will provide students and faculty opportunities to engage directly with U.S. Navy personnel at all levels, from junior enlisted to ONR science and technology advisers, to help solve problems identified by U.S. Navy commands in Hampton Roads. The program includes opportunities for students and faculty to visit naval installations and to board naval ships to examine real-time needs and priorities of the Navy.

"This program demonstrates the high value of our engineering and technology education," said Rafael Landaeta, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Batten College and the program's principal investigator. "It not only provides students with the opportunity to solve real-world technical problems, but it provides the financial means to support such learning projects without increasing students' tuition."

Working in collaboration with a technical contact from the Navy, undergraduate student researchers will tackle several projects each year, engaging in real-life challenges faced by the military. Each project will produce a working prototype or solution for test and evaluation at the end of the project period.

"Often the military has needs that go unexplored for some time," said Tony Dean, associate professor and assistant dean for research in the Batten College and the collaborating investigator on the grant. "We have bright students and world-class faculty who have the knowledge and capacity to assist the Navy with those problems. Why not turn that know-how into teachable moments and introduce our engineers to the area of naval research?"

The program aims to expose the next generation of scientists and engineers to the needs of the Navy and the impact engineering has on filling capability gaps.

"Projects like this are a win-win," says Stephanie Adams, dean, Batten College of Engineering and Technology. "Our students and faculty acquire the knowledge and skills to support the needs of the Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense, while the Navy, as well as the region, benefits from a stronger workforce."

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