Message from the Director

Pradeep Lall

I am glad to report that Auburn University has been selected to lead a national manufacturing effort on harsh environment electronics as part of a U.S. Department of Defense led flexible hybrid electronics institute.

On Friday, Aug. 28, at NASA's Ames Research Center, Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced a cooperative agreement to the research consortium FlexTech Alliance to establish and manage a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics, or FHE MII. FlexTech Alliance, based in San Jose, California, will coordinate the FHE MII, which comprises 96 companies, 11 laboratories and non-profits, 43 universities and 15 state and regional organizations. Auburn University will head the only node in the state of Alabama.

The harsh environment focus of Auburn’s node aligns well with the core strengths of Auburn's NSF Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics (CAVE). In the center, we have been working on electronics performance, reliability and survivability in extreme environments for the automotive, military and defense companies and federal agencies. Establishment of a national harsh environment node for FHEMII will provide engineers with the integrated skills and theoretical background for the manufacture of flexible hybrid electronics for extreme environment applications, as well as create intellectual property, expenditures on research, education and related activities leading to a measurable economic impact by generating jobs and catalyzing development of technologies which can be manufactured in Alabama.

We have developed strategic partnerships with industry and research labs not only in Alabama, but across the nation for development and demonstration of technologies for harsh environment operation. Alabama is home to more than 200 aerospace and defense companies including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing. Redstone Arsenal is home to government agencies including the U.S. Army, NASA and MDA.  In addition, Alabama is home to several automotive manufacturers and their electronics suppliers.

The Flexible Electronics Harsh Environment Node will focus on the manufacturing challenges related to raw materials, materials handling, fabrication and assembly of flexible electronics for harsh environments, as well as TRL4 technologies for use in automotive, military and defense environments. The focus of flexible electronics fabrication will be on processes which meet the demands of soft, pliant and often easily damaged surfaces capable of low temperature processing. We will partner with industries to create demonstrators for new technologies such as printed flexible roll-to-roll electronics to mitigate the risk associated with the use of the new technologies in end-applications, as well as creating device designs for stretchable electronics.

Auburn University’s prior expertise uniquely positions the Flexible Electronics Harsh Environment Node to make a positive impact on the creation of manufacturing jobs related to the manufacture of flexible electronics. 

- Pradeep Lall, John and Anne MacFarlane Endowed Professor and Director