Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tours Auburn Engineering research centers

Published: May 3, 2024 2:30 PM

By Jeremy Henderson

The Navy's "Old Salt" — a sobriquet reserved for its longest-serving surface warfare officer on active duty — just got a taste of new research.

Adm. Christopher W. Grady, who as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation's second highest-ranking military officer, toured prominent Auburn University engineering research centers in advance of his Friday address at Auburn's NROTC commissioning ceremony, at which he will serve as commissioning officer.

"It's an immense honor to have Adm. Grady take the time to get an up-close look at the next-level research happening in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering," said Mario Eden, dean of engineering. "We take great pride in our leading role in supporting the military's mission through our advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity capabilities."

Grady began his visit by meeting with Auburn University President Christopher B. Roberts to discuss Auburn's collaboration with the Department of Defense, as well as the university's multiple space industry partnerships, including the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus' new status as a base of technical support operations for the Space Development Agency in Huntsville.

Grady later visited Auburn's National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME), whose internationally renowned expertise in additive manufacturing characterization will feature heavily in a new $50 million advanced manufacturing project — the single largest prime research contract ever awarded to Auburn University — designed to boost the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center's growing modernization efforts. NCAME's integral work on NASA's Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology project, or RAMPT, is crucial to improving the performance of the liquid rocket engines that will return the U.S. to the moon — and beyond.

Other stops included the new Design and Innovation Center in the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center, the most hands-on campus makerspace in the country; the Auburn Cyber Research Center, which integrates cutting-edge engineering technology with research to develop innovative methods of protecting U.S. cybersecurity; the Auburn University Small Satellite Program, a space science and technology research and workforce development program; and the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems, whose millions in Department of Defense contracts go toward the increasingly critical mission of reducing barriers inhibiting the introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies in small and medium manufacturing operations.

Grady liked what he saw.

"Auburn University is a premier research institution with some of the best facilities in the country," Grady said. "The cutting-edge work, especially in advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity, is vital for U.S. national security and our presence in space."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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