Shock physics prof on board to review body-armor testing

PULLMAN – Yogendra M. Gupta, Regents professor of physics and director of the Institute for Shock Physics at WSU, has been named to a National Research Council committee that will perform an independent assessment of the Army’s body-armor testing.

The appointment of the committee follows a recommendation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for an independent review of the body armor standards.

The National Research Council functions under the auspices of the National Academies, a private, nonprofit institution that provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and the public on critical national issues. The purpose of the NRC assessment is to ensure that the Army maintains the highest standards for testing processes and protocols, thus addressing concerns raised by the GAO about current testing procedures.

In October, a GAO report said that the Army deviated from established testing standards and concluded that several of the designs that passed would have failed had the tests been done properly. Defense Department officials maintained that, while there were some issues with the body armor testing, those problems did not undermine their confidence in the overall results.

Gupta, who earned his doctoral degree from WSU in 1972, has been engaged in studies of condensed matter response to shock wave compression and nonlinear wave propagation since 1970.  He received the WSU Eminent Faculty Award for 2004-2005. He received the 2001 Shock Compression Science Award of the American Physical Society and, in 2002, was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  In 1991, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society.  Gupta has served on numerous committees for the Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

The Institute for Shock Physics is a multi-disciplinary research organization with an emphasis on materials research at extreme conditions.  The research activities are diverse and cover experimental and computational efforts that span the disciplines of physics, chemistry, materials science and mechanical engineering. The institute was established in 1997 with funding from the Department of Energy (defense programs) to ensure a strong, long-term scientific base for the DOE’s national security mission. 

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