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 Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
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About Us

WHO WE ARE

The Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures (CIMSS) consists of five core faculty members and about 25 affiliated faculty members from different departments within the College of Engineering and from the Department of Mathematics.  CIMSS faculty collaborate on various projects and also interact with several other major laboratories on campus.  We have a support staff of five, edit two international journals, and have roughly 40 graduate students. We often offer senior design courses and usually teach the controls course, the vibrations course, the materials course, a graduate course in smart structures and materials, and a course in energy harvesting.  We maintain a high state, national, and international profile and foster cooperative programs with other organizations worldwide.

 

WHAT WE DO

The Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures (CIMSS) focuses on the use and development of smart materials and structures, starting from material science and working through the chain of research and development, including device design and modeling.  Applications span all fields of engineering, including vibration reduction, structural health monitoring, energy harvesting, sensing and sensors, etc.   Application disciplines include mechanical engineering, materials engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, engineering mechanics, bio-inspired engineering, electrical engineering and applied mathematics.  We work with electroactive polymers, MR fluids, piezoelectric materials, dielectric elastomers, and shape memory materials.  Investigators at CIMSS perform basic research while at the same time trying to serve the needs of practicing engineers.

In addition to research and development, CIMSS maintains an active educational mission to both educate and provide information to the community regarding smart materials and structures.  We frequently host lab tours and visit local school systems.

 

HISTORY OF CIMSS

In the late 1980s, Virginia Tech researchers became intrigued by a relatively new, but dynamic, technology with the potential to revolutionize both industry and research called "smart materials".  Currently, this revolution is in full swing, a triumph due in large part to the work done at the Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures (CIMSS) at Virginia Tech.

CIMSS proudly emerged to its current leadership position from relatively humble beginnings.  Originally established in 1989 as the Smart Materials and Structures Laboratory, CIMSS began as a small project in Virginia Tech's Mechanical Engineering Department.  By 1991, the Lab had outgrown its allotted space and moved into an off-campus facility.  In 1997, CIMSS was combined with the Mechanical Systems Laboratory, received a new director, and moved into its present 6,000-square foot location in the newly-constructed Durham Hall in the campus engineering complex.

For more than two decades, CIMSS has garnered an impressive track as a leader in the field of "smart" structures and materials.  CIMSS has enjoyed sponsorship and interaction with a variety of companies, as well as the traditional granting agencies (the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, Los Alamos National Laboratories, the Air Force Research Labs, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology).  CIMSS routinely provides guidance on applications of smart materials.  We regularly advise industry on important technology issues and assist with the development of new systems that can impact their daily business.  Perhaps most importantly, we actively assist industries in the discovery, comprehension, refinement, and implementation of novel scientific applications of intelligent material systems and structures.

However, CIMSS is foremost an education center.  Our primary goal is to facilitate research and educational opportunities in science and engineering.  Students and faculty work closely together at CIMSS in meaningful, enriching ways.  In addition, we provide short courses and databases for smart materials and structures.

 

PROGRAMS

CIMSS has been known worldwide for more than two decades for its extensive educational and outreach programs. The Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program offers challenging opportunities to qualified undergraduate students for interdisciplinary research training in the area of smart structures and materials.  The Exchange Student Program allows students from universities outside the U.S. to perform research studies in the CIMSS laboratory for three to six months.  The Visiting Scholars Program brings in well-known scholars from all over the world for extended periods of study, research, and collaboration. CIMSS faculty members and students annually participate in numerous national and international conferences and workshops.  CIMSS also holds a technical conference each year, during which our students, post-docs, and a few invited external guests present current research results.