Tuesday, November 17, 2020
College of Engineering

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In November 2020, Stephen Baek, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, and H.S. Udaykumar, a professor of mechanical engineering and interim associate dean for research and graduate programs, both at the University of Iowa, received the 2020 Defense Innovation Award from TechConnect. Udaykumar and Baek received the award for their presentation “MaterIQ: An AI-based software tool for materials-by-design” at the Defense TechConnect Summit.

Photo of Stephen Baek
Stephen Baek

MaterIQ is a user-friendly software tool which harnesses cutting-edge AI to design engineered microstructures to produce novel, multifunctional, high-performance materials. MaterIQ can be used to design and optimize the structure and performance of a wide class of materials of interest to the U.S. Department of Defense, including lightweight structures, composites, foams, propellants and explosives.

“MaterIQ builds upon our state-of-the-art deep learning model to connect the linkages among microstructure, material property, and performance, as well as a reinforcement learning based AI design assistant which can produce optimized design candidates,” said Baek, who also directs the Visual Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Iowa Technology Institute. “Our adaptive AI model can also continuously evolve by reflecting user’s feedback, making it increasingly smarter over time.” 

This AI model addresses at least one significant problem that material scientists face. Many material scientists spend a tremendous amount of time and effort engineering material properties and performance characteristics. In many cases, the character of a material is usually a function of the material microstructure. In other words, shapes and patterns of crystals, voids, cracks, and other small structural constituents determine the physical property of a material. Theoretically, by controlling the shapes of these microstructures, new, innovative materials can be created exhibiting properties that cannot be found in the nature.

H.S. Udaykumar
H.S. Udaykumar

Udaykumar and Baek were joined in the presentation by their graduate students and postdocs Eric Chun, Yen Nguyen, Pradeep Seshadri, Joseph Choi and Jerome Charton.

About TechConnect Defense Innovation Awards

The 2020 TechConnect Defense Innovation Awards recognizing the top 15% of submitted challenge technologies as ranked by a committee of experts in defense technology. Rankings are based on the potential positive impact the submitted technology will have for the warfighter and national security.