Wichita Aviation Institute is High Flier in Research
The National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University is taking its work to all new heights.
With 135,000 square feet of laboratory space, NIAR is home to more than a dozen labs, specializing in such areas as advanced joining and processing, aging aircraft, full-scale structural testing, composites and advanced materials, crash dynamics, environmental testing, human factors, mechanical testing and virtual reality.
Established in 1985, NIAR is renowned for its cutting-edge research, design, testing and certification, providing expertise and assistance to the aviation industry, as well as government agencies and educational entities.
One of the institute's major assets is the Walter H. Beech wind tunnel, which provides industry, government agencies and educational institutions with the facilities, equipment and staff for aerodynamic testing and research. Other NIAR labs offer support in areas such as CAD/CAM, calibration and quality, computational mechanics and visual technology.
An industry advisory council – which represents major manufacturers Boeing, Bombardier/Learjet, Cessna Aircraft, Hawker Beechcraft and Spirit AeroSystems – helps steer the direction of NIAR’s research.
“They provide valuable feedback and give us recommendations as to what areas we need to focus on and the types of equipment we need to invest in,” says Tracee Friess, who oversees marketing and communication for NIAR. “As part of the university, we are a nonprofit, which means our services are quite affordable. We also are able to draw upon the university’s outstanding talent, collaborating with both professors and student assistants on research.”
NIAR also will serve as a partner in the new National Center for Aviation Training at Jabara Airport in Wichita. The $54 million, 200,000-square-foot facility is scheduled for completion in August 2010.
The NIAR will have significant lab space at the new center and will work closely with Wichita Area Technical College to develop high-tech training courses.