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UDRI VP recognized

UDRI Vice President Sukh Sidhu

UDRI Vice President Sukh Sidhu selected to receive new aerospace and defense award

Congratulations to Sukh Sidhu, vice president, University of Dayton Research Institute, for his selection as a winner of the Dayton Business Journal 2024 Aerospace & Defense Awards — a well-deserved recognition for a leader whose journey to the head of UDRI started in an entry-level position.

The new award is designed to recognize and celebrate the individuals in the greater Dayton area whose outstanding dedication and efforts have played significant roles in driving the region’s aerospace and defense industry forward in support of national aerospace and defense initiatives and programs.

Sidhu was selected for an award in the education category; other award categories were government, military, aerospace and defense.

“I am very humbled and honored to have been selected for this award, and more so to be included among a group of preeminent leaders who have done so much to support our nation’s defense,” said Sidhu, who did not know he had been nominated for the award until he was notified of his selection. “But this is really an award for all of UDRI. We have an outstanding team, and I am very lucky to lead and work with amazing people who work so hard every day to support our organization, our research and our aerospace and defense clients. They truly are our most important asset.”

Sidhu joined UDRI in the fall of 1992 as a postdoctoral researcher and worked his way through the ranks of research and then operational and business management. At every level along the way, he pushed to expand UDRI research in new areas and emerging fields and with a growing number of new aerospace and defense customers, developing mutually beneficial partnerships with other talented researchers to pursue and successfully execute increasingly larger programs. Throughout his career, his ability to anticipate customer needs, along with his keen business acumen and networking prowess, significantly contributed to the growth of UDRI and its ability to better support Air Force and Department of Defense needs.

Sidhu was promoted to executive director in 2021, and after two years — during which time sponsored research at UDRI grew by more than 20% — he was promoted again into the newly created role of vice president of UDRI, reflecting his leadership  and UDRI’s tremendous growth in size, location, capabilities and sponsorship.

During his leadership tenure, Sidhu led a number of business initiatives that not only resulted in significant growth for the Institute, but greatly benefited UDRI’s Department of Defense customers. One of them was to foster collaborative pathways within UDRI that would allow teams from various technical divisions across the Institute to work together to pursue significantly larger and more complex, multi-faceted programs requiring diverse capabilities in legacy and emerging areas of research — positioning UDRI as a “one-stop shop” in providing comprehensive research and development services from problem understanding through solution implementation.

With a focus on supporting defense clients’ desires to not only have solutions, but to put them into field use as quickly as possible, Sidhu also worked to build UDRI’s employee base to include a variety of skill sets, knowledge and experience that would allow the Institute to comprehensively solve problems, from concept to technology creation or selection, testing, demonstration, application, transfer and, when necessary, providing the client with education and training on new technologies.

Notable evidence of UDRI’s efforts in defense research under Sidhu’s leadership comes from the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development rankings: When the NSF released its rankings at the end of 2022, the University of Dayton ranked 10th among all colleges and universities in the United States for research sponsored by the Department of Defense — the first time UD had moved into the top 10 schools in that category. When the NSF released its newest rankings in December 2023, UD had jumped to 5th place in the nation for DOD-sponsored research. UD also performs more materials engineering than any other college or university in the country, being ranked in first place for the sixth year in a row, and all of them while Sukh was serving in an organizational leadership role. More than 95% of all sponsored research at the University is performed at UDRI.

In addition to his research and business development activities, Sidhu has always had a passion for mentoring students. He simultaneously taught undergraduate and graduate courses in UD’s School of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences for most of his career at UDRI and continued to mentor and advise a number of graduate students and doctoral candidates for several years even after moving into his first directorship role.

As VP, Sidhu regularly consults with and advises University leadership on initiatives to promote research and scholarship and to foster additional collaborative research opportunities between academic and UDRI researchers. He also works with regional, state and federal organizations in his efforts to not only position the University and its Research Institute as a center of world-leading research and development, but as a significant contributor to, and driver of, economic and technological development in the region.

“Dr. Sidhu’s professional accomplishments at UDRI and numerous contributions as a scientist, leader, scholar and teacher made him an outstanding candidate for recognition,” said University President Eric F. Spina. “He has more than earned his place among the first winners of the Dayton Business Journal Aerospace & Defense Awards.”

January 29, 2024


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