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Puszynski receives Life Achievement Award from Navy, Air Force
Release Date Tuesday, June 3, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (June 3, 2014) – South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Vice President for Research Jan Puszynski, Ph.D., received the Life Achievement Award from the Navy and Air Force Cartridge and Propellant Actuated Device (CAD/PAD) Joint Program. The award was presented during the 10th Technical Exchange Workshop held May 20-22 at Andrews Air Force Base, which is now a joint base with Naval Air Facility Washington. 

Puszynski, who earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, has been with the School of Mines since 1991, first as a chemical engineering professor and then a college dean. Previously he was a research professor at State University of New York at Buffalo.

Puszynski’s expertise is in reaction engineering, energetic materials, materials science and mathematical modeling of reactive systems. He has served as principle investigator on several research projects funded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division, Indian Head, Md., and other Department of Defense organizations.

“The Navy and the Air Force use explosive components to save lives in emergencies for things like ejection seats, clearing escape paths, extinguishing fires and deploying certain types of parachutes. Dr. Puszynski’s research has made these devices safer, easier to manufacture and more reliable,” said Heather Wilson, president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “We are very happy that he has been recognized for his contributions.”  

Spending two sabbatical terms at Indian Head, he assisted in designing, building and testing a new way to produce aluminum nanopowders using a low pressure evaporation/condensation process. He was later involved in development of a new environmentally benign propellant replacing ammonium perchlorate. Puszynski was also responsible for troubleshooting key technological aspects of production of propellants for CAD/PAD devices.

In 2001, Puszynski and a team of researchers from three other U.S. universities received the Defense University Research Initiative on Nanotechnology grant from the Army Research Office, and his research group joined the Department of Defense Center on Nanoenergetic Research.

In 1999, Puszynski established Innovative Materials and Processes, LLC, a company that has grown with numerous direct contracts and projects funded by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Puszynski and his team developed an automated process of water-based mixing and precise metering of nanothermite slurry into application hardware. Recently, this integrated process has been considered by the U.S. Army as an alternative technology for future large-scale production of small- and medium-caliber primers.

He has published over 175 scientific papers and presented more than 200 papers and invited seminars at national and international conferences. Puszynski is also a co-author of several patents and recipient of several national and international awards. He has served as a chair of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Energetic Materials Group, which promotes research and education in the area of energetics, and was elected as an AIChE Fellow in 2010.


About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,640 students from 45 states and 37 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for graduates is $62,400 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at