Baylor Researchers Collaborating on $15 Million Project to Advance Technologies Providing Sustainable Approaches in Defense Manufacturing

Research from Baylor’s Point-of-Need-Innovations Center could drastically reduce time and logistical footprints for the development or repair of mission-critical components

June 25, 2024
Paul Allison and Brian Jordon

(Left to Right): Brian Jordon, Ph.D., The Kenneth and Celia Carlile Chair in Materials Science and associate director of Baylor's Point-of-Need Innovations Center (PONI), and Paul Allison, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering and PONI center director. (Matthew Minard/Baylor University)

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
Follow us on X (Twitter): @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (June 25, 2024) – A multidisciplinary team of Baylor University researchers is working to advance technology that could drastically reduce the time and logistical footprints needed for the sustainable development and repair of products for the U.S. military. The technology, called Friction Stir Additive Manufacturing (FSAM), is an emerging approach in materials science whose rapid maturity would lead to significant advances in manufacturing for the Department of Defense and a wide variety of civilian organizations.

A Baylor engineering student talks about projects with a group of people
The Point-of-Need Innovations Center (PONI Center) in the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) includes more than 5,000 square feet of laboratory space accommodating the ITAR laboratory, the Center for Microscopy and Imaging, and the Materials Testing & Characterization Core (MTCC). (Matthew Minard/Baylor University)

The research emanates from Baylor’s Point-of-Need Innovations Center (PONI), an interdisciplinary research and development center in materials, manufacturing, engineering design, business management and logistics housed under the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. Paul Allison, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering and PONI center director, and Brian Jordon, Ph.D., The Kenneth and Celia Carlile Chair in Materials Science and PONI associate director, lead the multi-institution research partnership, which includes colleagues from Baylor University, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and Solvus Global. 

A $15 million congressional appropriation, championed by Sen. John Cornyn (TX) and Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-17), funded the grant through the U.S. Army Research Lab (ARL) and National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS). The support will provide a rapid and more sustainable approach to the procurement of mission-critical components for aircraft, ground vehicles and more.

“This investment in the Friction Stir Additive Manufacturing (FSAM) research at Baylor is an exciting development for this leading-edge project. Research being conducted at Baylor will directly enhance preparedness and safety while cutting operations and maintenance costs for the U.S. Army,” Congressman Sessions said. “Under the leadership of Paul Allison and Brian Jordon at the Point-of-Need Innovations Center, Baylor is advancing this promising technology. I am proud to champion this effort as part of my commitment to support our servicemen and women by providing them with the tools needed to maintain our national security and advance U.S. interests worldwide."

After successful research careers at the University of Alabama, Allison and Jordon came to Baylor in 2022 and established the PONI Center, where they have further advanced their nationally recognized record of research partnership and funding development.

“We’re grateful to Sen. John Cornyn and Congressman Pete Sessions for the $15 million appropriation,” Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., said. “These funds will allow Drs. Jordon and Allison and their team to develop the technology to produce or repair objects in the most austere conditions, with numerous applications for the military, for humanitarian uses and for space exploration.”

Applied research to meet immediate needs
Paul Allison
Paul Allison, Ph.D.

Through the development of a mature FSAM process, the researcher team seeks to rapidly address military needs that directly support men and women in uniform.

“There is a long lead time for many items the Army needs, like gearboxes for rotorcraft or forged components for ground vehicles,” Allison said. “The parts can take a long time to get, because you have to cast, forge and machine them. If anything goes wrong during the processing, you have to go back and recast, and that can reset the clock for a year. That’s not ideal when you’re trying to support military or humanitarian operations.”

A mature FSAM process would cut down waste in both parts and time needed for development of materials. 

Brian Jordon
Brian Jordon, Ph.D.

The researchers seek to develop a low-power, nimble process using locally available – and often less expensive – materials while still delivering the same properties as the more time-consuming approaches. Attainment of this sustainable approach could demonstrate cost savings of 30%, reduce waste more than 20% and reduce lead times currently displayed by traditional manufacturing techniques by more than half.

The researchers are working on a potentially rapid schedule.  As the technology matures, manufacturers could integrate these advances into the development process within the next five years – a timeframe that motivates Jordon and Allison.

“What gets us excited is that there is an immediate application,” Jordon said. “What is needed to complete today’s work? That’s a question that drives us in our work broadly, and in this project. We find a lot of fulfillment in knowing that we’re helping the war fighter and helping the defense of our country in these types of projects.”

Multifaceted team serving those who serve

Baylor colleagues Trevor Fleck, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, David Jack, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering, Pedro Reyes, Ph.D., associate professor of operations and supply chain management, and Garritt Tucker, Ph.D., The Eula Mae and John Baugh Chair of Physics, will work alongside Jordon and Allison and partners at UNH and Solvus Global. 

Baylor engineering students working in a manufacturing lab

Baylor students within the PONI Center will take part in the research as well, earning real-time training in the development of a technology that will prepare them for future innovation and employment in the field. 

Overall, the team represents decades of experience in advanced materials, the supply chain and more, for a holistic view of the technology from development to delivery. But through it all, the motivation of serving those who serve remains at the forefront. 

“Both of my parents were in the military, and I previously worked for the U.S. Army Engineering Research Development Center,” Allison said. “For me, using the gifts God gave me to be able to make soldiers’ lives better, like my parents', is what motivated me to go into engineering – to be able to help soldiers like them.”

Jordon said there is  extra responsibility knowing that the things the team is working on will actually be rolled out.

“It’s an amazing responsibility, and we’re just grateful to be involved,” Jordon said.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) has been preparing its students for more than 25 years as innovators for worldwide impact by training graduates for professional practice and responsible leadership with a Christian worldview. Students can choose from majors including bioinformatics, computer science, data science, electrical and computer engineering, general engineering and mechanical engineering. ECS also offers graduate programs in all areas of study within the School. We stand out from the crowd through Christian commitment, R1 research, a strong community, personalized career support, expert accessibility, and leading practical experience. Visit the ECS website to learn more and follow on Instagram and Facebook.