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National Security Education Center


  • Institute Director
    Dan Thoma
    (505) 663-5627
  • Institute Deputy Director
    Bob Field
    (505) 663-5807
  • Institute Office Manager
    Lynn Chavez
    (505) 663-5233

Materials Design Institute

Materials design is defined as the ability to predict and tailor the properties and response of a material for a given engineering application while controlling chemistry and processing history. The interaction between composition, processing, properties and performance is graphically represented by the materials tetrahedron. The Materials Design Institute (MDI) was established to recruit, retain, and revitalize the LANL materials workforce through education programs. As part of the education activities, appropriate mentored research activities are included for fulfillment of degree requirements and professional enhancement. The materials community at LANL constitutes a very broad spectrum of cross-organizational interactions, and therefore, an inclusive multi-disciplinary approach is mandated to capture emerging competencies and capabilities essential for the future health of the organization. To achieve this ambitious goal, a collaborative interaction has been established with the College of Engineering at the University of California-Davis to develop a diverse, cross-discipline degree emphasis that promotes teaming through dual-use technology advancement.

The core competencies stressed in the MDI focus upon synthesis/processing, alloy design, and the resultant properties as linked by the primary characterization feature, microstructural evolution. These competencies are linked through first-principal models and engineering simulations to develop integrated teaming approaches that can address performance objectives relevant to a diverse set of programmatic goals.

Two major thrusts of the MDI are the Joint Educational Program, in which a specialized curriculum is being developed with courses to be taught by UC Davis faculty and LANL staff, and the Collaborative Research Programs. Graduate students are currently involved in joint research projects with UC Davis faculty and LANL technical staff. These projects are funded by the Institute and provide opportunities to perform cutting edge research that is relevant to the LANL mission. In addition to research performed at UC Davis, the students have the opportunity to spend summers at LANL, working directly with LANL staff.

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