Purdue renews, expands Sandia National Laboratories partnership

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories have signed a memorandum of understanding to renew and expand the strategic partnership that began in 2015.

Theresa Mayer, Purdue executive vice president for research and partnerships, and Susan Seestrom, chief research officer at Sandia National Laboratories, signed the document in a virtual meeting on Friday (April 17). The new partnership extends until 2030.

The agreement specifies many areas of partnerships, and the research collaborations will be focused in four areas of mutual interest:

The two organizations are partnering on programs for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Semiconductor Research Program, including the Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP); the Center for Heterogenous Integration Research on Packaging, which integrates microchips into packages; and the nanoelectronics Computing Research Program (nCORE) through Purdue’s New Limits center, which researches improvements in computer chips.

  • Advanced data science. Identifying insights from enormous datasets and using data as a fuel for artificial intelligence and automated systems are areas of strategic importance to U.S. security. Purdue’s Integrative Data Science Initiative boasts many world-leading efforts in research and education.

“Sandia National Labs is a recognized world leader in technology research and implementation,” Mayer said. “This partnership will allow us to work together to solve significant national issues and problems that no one institution could address alone.”

Sandia National Laboratories, which is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is operated and managed by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC., a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc. National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia operates Sandia National Laboratories as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and supports numerous federal, state, and local government agencies, companies, and organizations. 

Seestrom said the partnership will leverage the strengths of each institution.

“Our two institutions have worked together to advance cybersecurity, hypersonic flight other research fields critical to national security,” she said. “We’re building on these successes and growing a pipeline of talented scientists and engineers to solve tomorrow’s national security challenges.”

Sandia and Purdue already have a visible presence on each other’s campuses. Timothée Pourpoint, professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue, is Purdue’s research liaison with Sandia and is a regular presence at the National Laboratory. Eugene Spafford, professor of computer science, and executive director emeritus of Purdue’s Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS), completed a 2018-19 sabbatical as a Sandia visiting cybersecurity scientist.

Purdue has provided office space for Sandia employees and an intern workspace for Purdue students working on Sandia-related efforts. 

Among those employees is Kamlesh “Ken” Patel, who oversees Sandia-Purdue academic partnerships.

“The university has provided Sandia collaborative space in the heart of campus for our remote staff to engage with Purdue students on national security-related projects. This continued agreement provides a framework to build on such efforts to streamline our future partnership,” he said.

“Just this past year, Purdue has received its highest amount of $1.8 million of discretionary fund from Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research & Development program. These have positioned Purdue, in collaboration with Sandia, to lead a team to respond to large federal grant opportunities greater than $10 million.”

On the instructional side, Sandia has already provided internships for more than 70 Purdue students over the previous five years and recently sponsored two projects in Purdue’s Data Mine learning community, with participation of more than 20 students.

Instructional collaborations include a master’s-level program in cybersecurity; an intern program for Sandia on Purdue’s campus, the Sandia-Extended National Security Internship (SENSE); and a national security engineering and policy certificate program for undergraduate students.

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