The U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently selected its regional lead for ARL Central in Chicago, Illinois. The lab announced its new regional partnership at ARL’s Open Campus Open House last October.
ARL Central is part of the Army’s Open Campus program–an initiative building a science and technology ecosystem that encourages groundbreaking advances in basic and applied research areas relevant to the Army.
ARL selected Dr. Mark Tschopp as ARL Central’s regional lead in December; he plans to move to the Chicago area later this year. Tschopp said he looks forward to the new opportunity.
“I’m very excited about being selected as a regional lead for ARL Central,” Tschopp said. “Having worked in industry, academia and at national labs, it’s very exciting to be working together for the mission of the Army to further our research to openly exchange ideas and collaborate. That’s going to really foster innovation.”
Like ARL West, which was established at the University of Southern California in April 2016, and ARL South, which was established with its headquarters at the University of Texas at Austin last year, ARL Central will allow faculty and researchers from the greater Chicago area to work alongside — and in collaboration with — ARL researchers on new discoveries to help the Army solve current and future challenges.
Tschopp said ARL Central is an extension of the lab’s open campus framework.
“Open campus started with bringing the partners in to work at our labs collocated alongside with our researchers and our capability. Now, this latest ARL thrust is about going out to these institutions,” Tschopp explained.
“ARL Central will collocate staff scientists and ARL researchers with our partners. This will lead to an open exchange of ideas and the rapid pursuit of technologies. Ultimately, this will help to deliver innovation in science and technology for the warfighter.”
Tschopp said the initial areas the lab will focus on include research in critical areas for the Army such as materials science, manufacturing, mechanics, propulsion science and computation/information science; all essential scientific building blocks for the chief staff of the Army’s strategic priorities.
The laboratory’s central hub is located at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and includes additional regional academic institutions to include Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin; area laboratories such as Argonne National Laboratory; other Army institutions such as Rock Island Arsenal; and local industry.
A ribbon cutting event for ARL Central was well attended and held in conjunction with Veteran’s Day, Nov.10.
“The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a tremendous event. It was great to see our partners represented there. It was also great to see Army leadership all the way up to the Acting Secretary of the Army as well as government representation from the state of Illinois (Senator Durbin) and the city of Chicago (Mayor Emanuel). I’m really excited as is everybody here at ARL about where we’re going with ARL Central and how we’re going to move forward with all of these partners,” Tschopp said.
Tschopp said partnering with regional institutions expands the ability of ARL to meet the future science and technology needs for the Army — it’s about doing more for the warfighter and for the mission of the Army.
ARL Central is the third laboratory extension that has been opened for the Army.
Dr. Philip Perconti, ARL director said, “We’re really starting to fill in the ecosystem across the country now. For all of our extensions, ARL Central is mostly about the work we’re going to do in the Internet of Battlefield Things. It’s about the work we’re going to do in materials science, dynamic compression sector and Argonne laboratories — and perhaps, it’s about some work we’re going to do in quantum information sciences. But it really completes the picture of and allows us to extend our research into the central part of the country. So coupled with ARL West, ARL South and the soon to be ARL Northeast, we’ll have ARL locations nationally.”
Before accepting the permanent ARL Central position, Tschopp was acting regional lead. He was previously a materials engineer, team leader and branch chief in the Lightweight and Specialty Metals Branch of ARL’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.
Tschopp earned a master of science in metallurgical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1999, where his DOE-funded manufacturing research won the Best Paper Award at the American Foundry Society conference. He received a doctorate degree in materials science and engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where his atomic scale research into grain boundary and dislocation interactions received several awards, including the Sigma Xi Best PhD dissertation award.
Before joining ARL in 2012, Tschopp spent four years in experimental manufacturing research and development at GM Powertrain, two years in high temperature material sustainability and mechanics within the Life Prediction and Behavior group at the Air Force Research Laboratory and more than four years as faculty in Mechanical Engineering and Computational Science and Engineering while working in the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University. In 2016, he was selected for the prestigious ASM International Silver Medal Award, an international mid-career award presented to one materials scientist.
In 2017, he was elected as a fellow within the American Society of Mechanical Engineering ASME, the highest distinction within the society. He has published over 90 peer reviewed journal articles in materials science, solid mechanics and computational science, while also presenting over 90 invited talks, seminars and presentations at various venues.
When asked to share his thoughts about the new lab location, Tschopp said ARL Central is about forming diverse teams through partnership that will lead to rapid capability and innovative solutions for complex Army problems in a constantly-changing technological environment. It is about expanding ARL’s physical presence to the technology-rich Greater Chicago region, accelerating technology modernization for the future Army. He said it is also about educating, training and hiring the next generation of scientists and engineers for future careers at ARL and the DOD.
“ARL Central is about engaging Soldiers and other Army/DOD agencies for the early stages of R&D and I’m truly excited about the vision of ARL’s leadership and I am pleased to serve ARL in this role,” Tschopp said.