Oklahoma news aerospace 2024

University of Oklahoma Receives $4M Grant for Supply Chain Resiliency Research

The University of Oklahoma has received a nearly $4 million congressional appropriation for supply chain risk management research from the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing of the U.S. Air Force Sustainment Center. The project, coordinated by the Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute and Data Institute for Societal Challenges, aims to improve the Department of Defense’s supply chain capabilities by developing advanced data analytics tools.

“Enhancing resilience is essential for executing the Air Force’s supply chain mission,” said Gen (ret.) Robin Rand, executive director of OU’s Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute. “The 448th’s mission involves complex planning and execution for everything from supplying spare parts for aircraft, engines and intercontinental ballistic missiles to providing a wide range of support equipment, programmed depot maintenance and commodity and equipment repair. This project will bolster the Air Force’s situational awareness of the supply chain and its intricate network of supplier relationships.”

Researchers at OU will apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance defense-related supply chain resilience. These techniques are critical for real-time monitoring, predictive analytics and risk mitigation strategies that ensure the timely delivery of critical resources to support military operations.

“Our team will provide prototype products to enhance the Air Force’s visibility of supply chain operations,” said Charles Nicholson, director of the OU Data Science and Analytics Institute and principal investigator for this project. “These efforts will develop a foundation for advancing visualization and analytics in various areas within the supply chain system and provide users flexibility to best meet ever-changing environments.”

OU’s prototypes will enhance the ability to monitor supplier connections, critical minerals and other predictive analytic materials. When deployed, they have the potential to optimize logistics operations, identify vulnerabilities and adapt swiftly to dynamic threats, thereby bolstering the resilience and effectiveness of the defense supply chain.

The U.S. Department of Defense acknowledged in a 2022 report that as its supply chain became more global, it faced the risk of sourcing resources from potential adversaries. The pandemic further demonstrated that even minor disruptions in defense supply chains can cause massive bottlenecks due to limited supply sources.

“Creating greater supply chain visibility will enable the DoD to better share supply chain risk indicators across the government,” said David Ebert, director of OU’s Data Institute of Societal Challenges, project co-principal investigator and Gallogly Chair of Engineering. “Furthermore, it will provide hands-on, real-world experience for students to work on research and development issues of importance to the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Department of Defense.”

Steve Gray, director of the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing, added, “The tools developed through this partnership will serve as valuable assets in navigating the complexities of supplier interactions, ultimately contributing to a more secure and robust supply chain for the U.S. Air Force.”

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