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Maria Feng, a professor at the UC Irvine Henry Samueli School of Engineering, was awarded $5.5 million by the United States Army to develop new technologies in armor, the school announced on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
The funds will go toward developing sensor technology, as well as analyzing the damage sustained and durability of armor after it has been put through rigorous testing, according to a UCI press release. The work will be conducted in a state-of-the-art on-campus facility known as the Center for Advanced Monitoring and Damage Inspection.
Although the funds provided by the U.S. Army will go toward developing armor, according to a statement made by Feng in the press release, she hopes to use the information learned from her work on the project to break new ground in the field of engineering.
‘I want to take this research further to help solve some other important engineering challenges,’ Feng said.
Feng has been a faculty member at UCI for more than 15 years and has nearly three decades of experience in the field of engineering.
One accomplishment of Feng’s that is similar to the work she looks to conduct for the U.S. Army is developing highly sensitive sensors capable of monitoring the wear and tear of different structures, according to Feng’s online faculty page.
This work, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, has been used to monitor highway bridges. According to a federally conducted report, 21 percent of highway bridges are classified as structurally deficient. Through the use of Feng’s sensors, knowing how much longer a structure can endure and what repairs need to be made can be determined.
Through transferring similar methods onto military armor, protective covering and structures may be enhanced to the highest levels possible. Still, Feng’s work on this project looks to be of a different nature when compared to her past achievements as, unlike a bridge, a troop under fire does not slowly wither away.
According to the Orange County Register, Feng will not be alone in her work as UCI faculty members Masanobu Shinozuka and Ayman Mosallam will join her.
Shinozuka, who is the chair of civil and environmental engineering at UCI, has ample experience working on government affairs. In addition to analyzing damage and designing preventive measures toward protecting structures from natural disasters and decay, in recent years, Shinozuka has conducted much of his work out of UCI’s Center for Urban-Based Infrastructure Security and Management.
The goal of CUBISM since its establishment in 2003 has been to analyze homeland security issues through addressing such factors as natural science, engineering, management, economics and social sciences.
Likewise, Mosallam is far from a newcomer in the field of engineering and conducting research for government interests. In addition to working as the director for UCI’s Structural Engineering Testing Hall, Mosallam has recently developed sensors to monitor portable bridges used in military operations.

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