University of Lethbridge brings new opportunities to students with research partnership

Dr. David Naylor leads a partnership between the University of Lethbridg and Composites Research Network. University of Lethbridge

The University of Lethbridge is bringing new opportunities to students by joining Canada’s leading network for composites research.

The U of L is the second Alberta school (along with the University of Alberta) to join the Composites Research Network (CRN). The CRN acts as a bridge between academic and major composites industry partners.

“This is a major step forward for the university, putting our research into the hands of industry partners and creating multiple new opportunities for researchers and students alike,” said Dr. David Naylor, board of governors’ research chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and head of the Astronomical Instrumentation Group (AIG).

“Being a part of this network will connect us to industry heavyweights like Boeing and Convergent Manufacturing Technologies.”

A composite item is made from two or more constituent materials which, when combined, produce a material with different characteristics from the individual materials.

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Advanced composites are replacing the use of many metals, especially in the aerospace industry.

“Composites are stronger than steel, lightweight, have virtually no conductivity and for what we do in space,” Naylor said. “They are the perfect answer.”

Naylor believes composites are the material of the future.

“The majority of new materials – whether it’s hot tubs, tractors, airplanes, spacecraft, bicycles, Lamborghinis – will be built out of composites,” he said.

“People are realizing that these advanced manufacturing techniques and products will end up everywhere in society.”

AIG is internationally known for its work and production. Its role in the Herschel-SPIRE Consortium earned Naylor a Royal Astronomical Society award. AIG was also recently awarded $500,000 from the Canadian Space Agency to train future astronomers and engineers, while contributing to Canada’s role in future space endeavours.

By joining the CRN, Naylor and the AIG will bring a new level of engagement to both students and researchers.

“This is a prestigious group that leads the way in composites research. Our involvement in the CRN allows us to access specific training events and laboratory facilities and puts us in a collaborative position with the country’s key stakeholders,” Naylor said.

“It will present [students] with massive opportunities.”

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