NDE research at Iowa State University dates back to 1980, when the U.S. Air Force funded a program to develop more quantitative NDE measurement methods for aircraft inspection. ISU was selected because of its strong engineering program and the presence on campus of a national laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. CNDE was formed in 1984 as a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. ISU teams with industrial and government sponsors who help guide the research and share the results. CNDE has a long history of working with industry to provide cost-effective tools and solutions which address relevant problems for a variety of industrial sectors which include: Aerospace (commercial and military aviation) and Defense Systems (ground vehicles and personnel protection); Energy (nuclear, wind, fossil); Infrastructure and Transportation (bridges, roadways, dams, levees); and Petro-Chemical (offshore, processing, fuel transport piping). Industrial partnerships with nearly 100 companies have included the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research program, single-company proprietary projects, multi-company collaborations, and CNDE-led consortia. CNDE has been successful in attracting funding for many new major research programs that extend the capabilities it offers to sponsors. These programs include:
- Developing advanced computer simulation software for inspection methods and coupling the programs to software for computer-aided design (multiple sponsors).
- Inspecting aging aircraft structures and materials, and aircraft engine materials and components (Federal
- Aviation Administration).
- Supporting state industry with demonstrations and implementation of state-of-the-art technologies (State of Iowa).
- Applying technologies to important national environmental, safety and health problems such as evaluating radioactive heavy contamination at nuclear-material processing facilities (Department of Energy) such as evaluating the structural integrity of high level waste storage tanks and designing in-situ sensor systems for future nuclear power plants at the design stage.
- Developing new sensor systems to improve the reliability of future aerospace systems, with an emphasis on new sensors that can be integrated within aerospace structures to continuously monitor the structure’s condition, complemented by efforts targeted at immediate safety and mission-assurance problems such as the location of air leaks in space vehicles (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
- Assessing the state of advanced armor systems and personnel protection materials (Army Research Laboratory)
In 1997, the Airworthiness Assurance Center of Excellence (AACE) was formed with support from the Federal Aviation Administration. AACE is the focal point of the FAA’s research and development programs in inspection. Today, the ISU lead Center for Aviation Systems Reliability and the Engine Titanium Consortium continue to provide leadership in the inspection of aircraft and propulsion systems.