Midwest Structural Sciences Center

The Midwest Structural Sciences Center (MSSC) is a federally-funded research center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which joins the expertise of faculty and students, with the work of researchers from the United States Air Force, to simulate and test airframe structures critical to the nation’s aerospace program.

The MSSC was awarded in spring 2006 to the Computational Science and Engineering program (CSE) as a collaborative team among Illinois faculty, graduate students, and professional staff researchers, the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), and the Air Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/VA) of the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. The team will work to simulate, model, test, and assess structures and materials for use in future air- and space-frames. As an interdisciplinary center, faculty from four College of Engineering units joined in the initial proposal: Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computational Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Science and Engineering.

AFRL has made a ten-year commitment to the university for the program. Initial funding for MSSC is $2.25 million over five years, with the likelihood of significantly more funding to be added by the Air Force Office of Strategic Research and other Air Force research agencies. Computational resources, graduate assistantships, experimental facilities and AFRL/VA visitor office spaces have been earmarked by the university to directly support MSSC, as have graduate student tuition waivers from AFIT.

The research team will employ computational, analytical, experimental, personnel and financial resources from all three organizations--the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, AFIT and AFRL/VA--and will seek additional resources as needed from other federal and non-federal sources. Graduate research assistants at Illinois and AFIT will work with faculty at the universities and their colleagues at AFRL/VA to evaluate and extend the understanding of materials and structures in aerospace structural components that experience extreme combined environments.

In addition to Executive Director William Dick, Professors Glaucio Paulino and Daniel Tortorelli will serve as the center’s co-technical directors.

A wide variety of collaborative research projects will be coordinated by the MSSC to address performance of materials and structures in air vehicles. Five technical teams are in place to address specific areas within the research effort. The initial research group framework includes the following thrusts and potential projects: risk and reliability; structural behavior; materials modeling and simulation; conventional and advanced materials; and experiments and validation.


  • Glaucio Paulino
  • Daniel A. Tortorelli