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Mines receives $11.2 million federal grant for weather research
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Mines receives $11.2 million federal grant for weather research

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The O’Harra Administration Building on the South Dakota Mines campus in Rapid City.

South Dakota Mines in Rapid City has been awarded an $11.2 million federal grant to develop better material and manufacturing technology to withstand cold weather.

The grant was announced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D. The award will allow South Dakota Mines to partner with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program, the Cold Regions research and Engineering Laboratory.

According to a news release, the new project called “Materials and Manufacturing for Cold Regions” will be conducted over a five-year time span, with funding going to faculty and student research at the School of Mines from multiple engineering and science disciplines. The team will develop advanced materials and manufacturing technology in support of the U.S. Army’s global military objectives in cold and remote regions.

Rounds said funding for the project has been his top defense appropriation request for three years.

“I congratulate South Dakota School of Mines and the Army Corps of Engineers on this important collaborative research effort. Thanks to the work that has already begun, the conditions have been set for the research team to design enduring systems and processes for use in cold and remote conditions."

Dr. Grant Crawford, professor of materials and metallurgical engineering at South Dakota Mines, said Rounds and the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee have been instrumental in supporting the research.

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“Through this partnership we will apply materials and manufacturing research expertise and infrastructure, developed over the past two decades by numerous Mines faculty, staff and students, to support the critical needs of our nation’s armed forces," Crawford said. "It’s a perfect opportunity for us and we look forward to the new partnership.”

CRREL solves interdisciplinary and strategically important challenges for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, Department of Defense (DoD) and the nation by advancing and applying science and engineering to complex environments, materials and processes in all seasons and climates, with unique core competencies related to the Earth’s cold regions.

The research at South Dakota Mines will focus on three main areas: advanced materials, advanced repair and manufacturing technologies, and advanced coatings.

Mines faculty and students will research lightweight composites that offer thermal insulation and low temperature ballistics capability to support armor for soldiers, equipment, vehicles and structures. The research includes multifunctional shape memory materials that can be used for damage tolerant devices and energy harvesting in cold environments.

Friction stir welding/processing and cold spray technologies research can be used to repair broken parts and produce lightweight structures in cold regions. The team will also research thick and thin film coatings that offer advanced wear and corrosion resistance, anti-icing capability, and are tailored for use in Earth's cold regions to extend the lifetime of equipment, structures and devices.

Dr. Jim Rankin, president of South Dakota Mines, said the research has the potential to be a win-win for the university and for national defense.

“It will aid our nation’s defense and it will lead to new technology, new materials and new manufacturing processes that will spin off into start-up companies right here in the Black Hills," Rankin said. "This translates to more local high-paying jobs for our graduates and an economic boost to our community."

Contact Nathan Thompson at

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