Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) is an interdisciplinary field of study that is concerned with the development of analysis techniques and measurement technologies for the quantitative characterization of materials, tissues and structures by non-invasive means. Ultrasonic, radiographic, thermographic, electromagnetic, and optical methods are employed to probe interior microstructure and characterize subsurface features. Applications are in non-invasive medical diagnosis, ectogenous robotics & on-line process control, as well as the traditional NDE areas of structural flaw detection and materials characterization. Security screening, the Internet of Things and machine learning are of particular interest currently.
The focus of our work is to implement new and better measurements with both novel instrumentation and embedded artificial intelligence that automates the interpretation of the various (and multiple) imaging data streams. Thus, at W&M the term nondestructive evaluation is taken to mean many things for which this is the underlying theme. Each student’s research typically has application to several quite different areas, in order to gain meaningful experience in multiple industries. Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide variety of jobs, and many of our research projects are done in close collaboration with our former students.
Prospective students are encouraged to contact Professor Mark Hinders directly via email with any questions about the graduate program in NDE. Students with undergraduate backgrounds in physics, applied mathematics and engineering are usually prepared for graduate study in NDE. There is no rigidly defined set of prerequisites, however.
The W&M NDE Group has always had a close working relationship with NASA LaRC, which allows students to be resident at NASA Langley for substantial portions of their research. As the NASA focal point for materials and structures, work at LaRC combines basic research with novel aerospace technology development and transfer. We also work closely with the Entrepreneurship Center in our Mason School of Business, partnering up PhD and MBA students to assess commercial prospects for technologies students develop in their research. The W&M NDE Laboratory is now located in the newest part of the Integrated Science Center in the heart of campus. Other laboratory facilities are shared with local industrial partners, with whom we have active collaborations to further develop and then commercialize our innovations.