AFRL Regional Hub Network – Mid-Atlantic celebrates grand opening

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY — The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Regional Hub Network – Mid-Atlantic region, a pilot network supported by the AFRL and led by Cornell University, celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and $450,000 in funding awards to three project teams focused on prototyping research innovation and accelerating research translation.

The event also included remarks from AFRL Chief Technology Officer Timothy J. Bunning and several other key leaders across AFRL and the Mid-Atlantic Hub, including Brian McJilton, director of AFRL’s small business unit; Richard Vaia, chief scientist of AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Emmanuel Giannelis, Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering in the College of Engineering at Cornell and co-director of the Mid-Atlantic Hub; and Patrick Govang, interim director of corporate engagement in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation at Cornell and co-director of the Mid-Atlantic Hub.

ribbon cutting ceremony

Timothy Bunning, AFRL chief technology officer, cuts a ribbon to commemorate the official opening of the AFRL Regional Hub Network – Mid-Atlantic on April 28, 2023. From left to right: Patrick Govang, co-director of the AFRL Regional Hub Network – Mid-Atlantic; Emmanuel Giannelis, co-director of the Regional Hub Network – Mid-Atlantic; Richard Vaia, chief scientist for the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, AFRL; Timothy Bunning, chief technology officer, AFRL; Lynden A. Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, Cornell University; Sean Mahoney, chief intrapreneur, AFRL; and Mark H. Linderman, chief scientist of the Information Directorate, AFRL. Cornell courtesy photo.

The one-day event held at Cornell’s Ithaca campus featured presentations from teams awarded funding during the Fall 2022 funding cycle and the premiere of a new overview video about the Mid-Atlantic Hub that can now be viewed on the Hub’s newly designed website. Participants also enjoyed a networking lunch with AFRL leaders and other Hub members that culminated with a ceremonial ribbon cutting led by Bunning.

“The grand opening of the AFRL Regional Hub Network for the Mid-Atlantic region marks a significant milestone in fostering innovation and accelerating research translation for our nation’s defense,” Bunning said. “By bringing together members of AFRL, industry and academia, we’re seeking to empower researchers to explore cutting-edge ideas and develop prototypes that will strengthen our capabilities in the future, cultivate breakthroughs and fortify our national security. From what I’ve seen so far, we’re certainly on the right path.”

At the conclusion of the event, three project teams from the Spring 2023 cycle were awarded a total of $450,000 in project funding, which include the following:

  • “The Magpie” – A collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and the United States Space Force (USSF), led by Principal Investigator (PI) Gregory Falco, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, and co-PI Michelle Simon, AFRL, focusing on autonomous path planning informed by edge-generated signal intelligence for a space vehicle.
  • “Scaling of thermally-optimized aluminum nitride power amplifiers” – A partnership between Soctera Inc., a client of the Praxis Center for Venture Development at Cornell, and AFRL, headed by Soctera CEO Austin Hickman, Ph.D. ’21, and co-PI W. Joshua Kennedy, AFRL, to develop a power amplifier for wireless radio frequency communications with 50% reduced operating temperatures for higher performing, longer range and more efficient wireless communications.
  • “Real-time hyperspectral anomaly detection using a small autonomous UAV” – A joint effort between Binghamton University and the AFRL/RY Sensors Directorate, led by PI Jayson Boubin, assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University and co-PI Trevor Bihl, AFRL, focused on developing a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (sUAV) platform with onboard hyperspectral imagery capture and analysis capabilities.

“The Hub’s collaborative environment brings together the best of academia, industry and AFRL to help significantly reduce the risk of new technologies and make them viable for both commercial and national security applications,” McJilton said. “This synergy is a testament to our collective commitment to drive innovation and secure a prosperous future for our nation and beyond.”

Proposals for the Mid-Atlantic Hub’s next funding cycle will be accepted from June 12 to July 14; proposals for the fall cycle will be accepted from Sept. 5 to Oct. 6.

The Hub’s second annual meeting will take place Nov. 8 and 9 and will be hosted by the Griffiss Institute in Rome, New York.

The AFRL Regional Hub Network – Mid-Atlantic is a pilot network supported by the Air Force Research Lab and led by Cornell. Founding member institutions include Binghamton University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Columbia University, Griffiss Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and the SUNY Research Foundation. The Mid-Atlantic Hub aims to provide key connections between industry, academia and the government to foster innovation of critical technologies.