NASA Funds RCBI Composites Project

NASA has awarded the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) a grant to help fund a $20,000 Composites Technology Outreach Project. The goal of the project is to increase public awareness, especially among young people, of this important new sector of technology.

“It is difficult to find an industry in the 21st Century that is not touched by composites materials,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI Director & CEO. “Composites technology is particularly booming in the aviation and aerospace industries, where light-weight, high-strength composites are used to reduce weight and improve the efficiency of aircraft and spacecraft.”

Composites also are used in automotive bodies and parts, ship and boat building, sporting equipment and safety gear, energy technology and medicine.

“Today’s flourishing composites industry promises to create a whole new generation of good jobs and start-up businesses that are needed in West Virginia,” Weber said.

Stan Maynard, executive director of the Marshall University June Harless Center for Rural Education Research, noted that the center “has been active in assisting K-12 school systems with professional development in the areas of curriculum development and technology, but to have access to NASA’s technology takes our ability to help West Virginia schools to a higher level.”

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., hailed the RCBI effort and the NASA grant.

“With its extensive network and proven abilities in capturing young imaginations, RCBI is a solid launch pad to explore this new wonder material with our kids,” said Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “NASA’s investment is truly a sound one as American innovation continues to refuel our economy and our jobs.”

RCBI has extensive experience with composites. Its Composites Technology & Training Center in Bridgeport is the only facility of its kind on the East Coast.

Plans for the project call for RCBI to conduct a Composites Technology Conference and Demonstration, facilitate Composites Technology webinars, assist in the development of Composites Technology workshops, promote professional development for K-12 STEM educators and initiate a K-12 outreach effort using Composites Technology centered lesson plans, learning materials and hands-on experiments.

RCBI’s partners in the campaign in addition to Marshall’s June Harless Center, include Marshall’s College of Education, FMW Composite Systems Inc. and the WV NASA Educator Resource Center.