Mines News

Release Date Friday, January 25, 2019

SD Mines Recognized with Aviation Industry Award

A B-1B Lancer lands at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 30, 2018. The B-1 is the backbone of the United States' long-range bomber force.  The cold spray process, developed at SD Mines, is now being used to help keep B-1’s combat ready.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol). 

Aviation Week has given South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base and Moog Inc. a Laureate Award for pioneering the use of cold spray technology in aircraft repair and maintenance. In March the three organizations will be recognized at the 62nd Annual Laureate Awards in Washington, D.C., in the MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operations) category.

The cold spray process was invented during the Cold War and developed at SD Mines in conjunction with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). Mines and ARL further developed portable equipment suitable for military and aerospace applications. The cold spray process involves blasting metallic powder at a high velocity onto a metal surface that is worn or in need of repair. The metal particles, or spray, bond to the existing metal and create repaired surfaces that are like or better than new. The US Air Force’s 28th Bomb Wing is now using cold spray to repair the B-1 bombers, saving the service about $250,000 per restored panel.

The development of cold spray at Mines lead to the highly successful spin-off company VRC Metal Systems. The company was named among the 40 Best University Start-Ups of 2017.  Former South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard also recognized VRC Metal Systems with the Governor’s 2015 Giant Vision Award and Christian Widener, Ph.D., former Mines associate professor as the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year.

“This recognition from Aviation Week is an honor for the university and it further highlights the potential for research at Mines to spin-off into world-class innovation and high-tech job creation,” says Mines President Jim Rankin.

Grant Crawford, Ph.D., is director of the Arbegast Materials and Processing (AMP) Laboratory, a cutting-edge research facility for advanced metals processing, joining, cladding and other materials development applications. Crawford is among those who will be on hand to accept the Laurate Award in Washington, D.C., in March. “This award is a unique honor and certainly highlights the significant efforts of many individuals at SD Mines and our collaborators at VRC Metal Systems, Moog and Ellsworth Air Force Base,” says Crawford. “We plan to build on this recognition by continuing to develop cost-effective repair technology to support the sustainability of Air Force, Navy and Army infrastructure, while also providing unique education and training opportunities for our students.”

Aviation Week is a recognized industry leader and the annual Laureate Award winners are considered trail-blazers. The organization’s mission statement reads “Aviation Week's core mission has not changed since it was founded in 1916: To serve industry accurate, scientific and unbiased information that becomes a ‘great stimulus’ to its success.”

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About SD Mines  

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 2,654 students with an average class size of 24. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $63,350. Find us online at sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Charles Michael Ray, 605-394-6082, Charles.Ray@sdsmt.edu