Department of Defense awards Engineering’s Breuer and Karniadakis with funds for equipment supporting defense-relevant research

Brown Engineering professors Kenny Breuer and George Karniadakis will receive more than $1 million combined from the Department of Defense (DOD) under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP). The grants will support the purchase of major equipment to augment current and develop new research capabilities relevant to the Department. 

Kenny Breuer

Breuer’s award is for four high-speed cameras to be shared between four highly-active researchers in engineering engaged in state-of-the-art fluid mechanics experiments, in particular particle image velocimetry (PIV) and high speed imaging. Two of the co-investigators, Breuer and Assistant Professor Dan Harris, are already funded with a variety of DOD grants from Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) that have active experiments in need of these imaging systems. These grants concern unsteady fluid mechanics associated with bio-inspired engineering and design for naval applications and aeroelastic instabilities associated with swept wing aerodynamics. The research supported by these grants includes experiments on vortex induced vibrations, fine-scale underwater maneuvering of robotic vehicles, high-speed air-water entry systems and aeroelastic instabilities. 

The third investigator, Thomas J. and Alice M. Tisch Assistant Professor of Engineering Monica Martinez Wilhelmus, is supported extensively by the Office of Naval Research for modeling and data analysis of environmental and biological flows, while the fourth investigator, Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence in Engineering Roberto Zenit, maintains an active research program on two-phase flows and flows of fluids with complex properties that also relies heavily on high resolution, high-speed PIV. The investigators work in a highly collaborative and shared research environment at Brown University, and the proposed equipment will be used cooperatively to further their research goals. The system will also be utilized in multidisciplinary training and educational programs by Brown Engineering at multiple levels, including training for postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students. 

George Karniadakis
George Karniadakis

Karniadakis, the Charles Pitts Robinson and John Palmer Barstow Professor of Applied Mathematics and Engineering at Brown, will receive support for his GPU Cluster for Neural Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) and Neural Operators. Funds from the award will support Multidisciplinary University Initiative (MURI) efforts involving teams of researchers supported by the Office of Naval Research.  Co-PI of this grant is Dr. Khemraj Shukla, Associate Professor (Research) in the Division of Applied Mathematics and a world expert on parallel computing.

Physics-Informed Machine Intelligence has the potential to predict complex multiscale phenomena and elucidate intriguing pathways in diverse and critical applications from climate and weather patterns, to autonomy, to functional and structural materials. Neural PDEs, such as physics-informed neural networks (PINNs), and neural operators, such as DeepONet, have been especially effective for solving inverse problems. With the recent rapid success of chatGPT and the realization that emerging properties appear only if large language models are pre-trained at scale, this funding is to acquire the latest GPUs enabling the training of DeepOnet and its variants at scale to tackle diverse problems of interest to DOD, from hypersonics to materials and fracture, to optimizing path planning, and to developing a new suite of bio-inspired fast methods that will accelerate computational speeds in Scientific Machine Learning by a factor of 1,000. 

The DURIP is a strategic investment through which the DOD champions the country’s scientific ecosystem. The program equips universities to perform state-of-the-art research that boosts the United States’ technological edge, while ensuring that the future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce remains second to none. This year’s awards will accelerate basic research in areas the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy prioritizes, including quantum computing and quantum networks, bioelectronics, hypersonics, autonomy, and the design, development, and characterization of novel materials.