Manufacturing PA Innovation Program grants support Lehigh academic-industry partnerships in sectors such as biomedicine, energy

Four Rossin College researchers have been awarded grants from the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program, an academic-industry partnership initiative, in support of projects designed to “spur new technologies and processes in the manufacturing sector.”

On May 29, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development announced the approval of more than $2.8 million in grants supporting a total of 43 projects across diverse areas of manufacturing, such as medical, energy, and consumer goods.

Through the Manufacturing PA fellowship, the state’s seven engineering research institutions, including Lehigh University, partner with Pennsylvania-based manufacturing companies on graduate and undergraduate student research projects that foster innovation while developing a 21st-century workforce. 

Grants of approximately $70,000 each were awarded to the following principal investigators: 

  • John Coulter, senior associate dean for research in the Rossin College and a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, will partner with Noortek (Emmaus, PA) on smart and adaptive extrusion manufacturing technologies. The development, testing, and validation of prototype systems will help scale production for the growing company while minimizing costs.

  • Anand Jagota, professor and founding chair of Lehigh’s Department of Bioengineering, will work with Adhezion Biomedical (Wyomissing, PA) and University of Pennsylvania collaborator Shu Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, on fabricating innovative hydrogel adhesives for wound closure. The researchers, who have previously collaborated on a reversible “superglue” inspired by snail biology, will develop a durable, stretchy adhesive that is also biocompatible and bioabsorbable.

  • Animesh Kundu, principal research scientist in Lehigh’s Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, will investigate the development of refractories for renewable energy with industry partners Dynalene (Whitehall, PA) and HarbisonWalker International (Moon Township, PA). Their efforts will lead to new refractory castable formations, or heat-resistant building materials, specifically designed for solar thermal applications.

  • Alparslan Oztekin, a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, will collaborate with Solarflux Energy Technologies (Bethlehem, PA) on the manufacture of membrane modules for cleaning fracking flow-back water using a solar-assisted membrane distillation process.