New $14.5M University of Michigan Center for Naval Research Opens

U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro visited the University of Michigan’s $14.5-million Center for Naval Research and Education during graduation week and talked about how the center is helping the U.S. Navy.
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U.S. Secretary of Navy Carlos Del Toro
:U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro (third from left) visited U-M’s Center for Naval Research and Education in Ann Arbor during graduation week and talked about how the school’s expertise is helping the Navy solve critical problems. // Photo courtesy of U-M

U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro visited the University of Michigan’s $14.5-million Center for Naval Research and Education during graduation week and talked about how the center is helping the U.S. Navy.

“I am incredibly proud of the partnership between the University of Michigan and the Department of the Navy,” says Del Toro. “Michigan is a key teammate in rebuilding our shipbuilding industry and restoring the comprehensive — commercial and naval — power of our nation. I am committed to growing our department’s relationship. We truly would not have the world’s most powerful Navy if not for our nearly 150-year partnership.”

The partnership should help prepare naval engineers for the challenges imposed by rapidly changing marine environments and maritime technology.

To tackle these challenges, the center will build multidisciplinary teams focused on research topics such as:

  • Studying how films of algae and bacteria impact vessel performance and how to prevent resulting performance issues.
  • Discovering ways to make vessels move more quietly through water.
  • Harnessing energy from waves.
  • Understanding flow-induced damage to design tougher hull materials.
  • Discovering ways to provide more control over vessel drag and maneuverability, such as morphable skin and highly water-repellent surfaces.

The center’s research will focus on building and supporting multidisciplinary teams of U-M faculty, postdoctoral, and student researchers, along with engineers from the U.S. Navy.

“By collaborating with Navy experts, our students and faculty will gain a valuable perspective on emerging maritime challenges and develop new solutions to tackle pressing scientific problems,” says Steve Ceccio, interim dean of U-M’s College of Engineering.

The work by U-M and Navy researchers is expected to help bring discoveries from academic research into maritime technology and operations more quickly.

“If new recruits come in with the skills needed to work on our problems, they can contribute to our projects much faster,” says Joel Hartenberger, a test engineer at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in Maryland. “At Michigan, I developed a skill set that allowed me to jump right into some of the Navy’s engineering projects, and I believe the center will extend that opportunity to more young engineers.”