Army engineer chairs mid-Atlantic materials research symposium

April 04, 2016

By Jenna Brady, ARL Public Affairs

ADELPHI, Md. (March 31, 2016) -- Dr. Brendan Hanrahan, a materials engineer for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, recently organized the Mid-Atlantic Micro/Nano Alliance's, or MAMNA, spring 2016 symposium titled "Material Advantage - Pioneering Devices Enabled by Material Breakthroughs" at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

The workshop explored the materials advances that have enabled breakthrough technologies in the areas of power and energy, flexible and stretchable materials, bio materials, and sensors and actuators.

MAMNA is a non-profit alliance of companies, universities and government laboratories in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area with the mission of bringing the local research community together.

The alliance does this through the hosting of chalk talks, annual symposiums and happy hours that foster interaction amongst the participants in hopes of introducing members to fellow researchers with shared goals and mutual resource needs.

Hanrahan serves as a symposium chair for MAMNA, volunteering his time to help the program reach its goals.

He originally became involved with the program as a graduate student attending the University of Maryland, College Park, and was then nominated by a fellow ARL employee to be on the steering committee.

"This symposium, as well as other MAMNA events, had a similar goal to that of ARL's Open Campus initiative, where researchers come together to share ideas and initiate conversations that will hopefully lead to collaboration and the sharing of facilities and capabilities," Hanrahan said.

Hanrahan said that an added benefit of MAMNA is that the researchers and their organizations are geographically convenient.

"While the mid-Atlantic region doesn't have the title allure of areas such as Silicon Valley, the density of quality researchers and laboratories in this region is uniquely high," Hanrahan said.

Hanrahan noted that the symposium was much more laidback than the average technical meeting, where researchers were to present with the purpose of inducing collaboration.

Researchers were encouraged to present their work that would foster a conversation, rather than their best and biggest projects.

Part of the more laidback atmosphere of the symposium included a "Shark Tank" like rump session, made popular by the hit television show of the same name, where teams of attendees pitched their work to a panel of judges and obtained immediate, useful feedback to stimulate new ideas and areas of research.

Research projects discussed at the symposium included materials that could be used to instantly change the shape of a wing, materials to develop transparent armor, and materials that would have the ability to wirelessly communicate the energy level of a warfighter both during training and on the battlefield.

Hanrahan's work, and the work discussed at the symposium, falls under ARL's Materials Research Campaign.

The mission of the campaign is to perform fundamental interdisciplinary research in materials and manufacturing science to ensure rapid and affordable development of materials, from discovery to delivery, critical to the Army of 2030.

The Army of 2030 will require materials with unprecedented capabilities that can be rapidly grown or synthesized and processed cost-effectively to enable Army platforms that are highly mobile, information reliant, lethal and protected. The work done at ARL under this campaign seeks to make this all possible for our warfighters.

Other ARL participants included Dr. Nathan Lazarus, who presented during the flex-stretch breakout session, and Gabe Smith and Dr. Nicholas Piekiel, who served as judges, or "sharks," during the rump session. For more information on ARL's technical campaigns, visit

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is the nation's premier laboratory for land forces and is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it, or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.

For more information, visit, follow @ArmyResearchLab on Twitter and follow the lab on Facebook at


Last Update / Reviewed: April 4, 2016