Victor Champagne '86G
Anna Maria College alumnus, Victor Champagne ’86G has been honored at the Pentagon in the “Hall of Heroes” for his extraordinary research achievements. An international expert in Supersonic Particle Deposition or “Cold Spray,” Vic is a dynamic entrepreneur who has never forgotten his educational roots at AMC.
Vic received a BS in mechanical engineering at Central New England College and continued his studies in materials science at other institutions, including WPI, MIT, and Lehigh University.
For over 25 years he has worked for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the leading materials research facility in the world. Early in his career, Vic stood out from his colleagues when he exploited Cold Spray technology from Russia and expanded this unique technology to the next level. Cold Spray research had focused primarily on the gas dynamics of the process and overlooked the materials science aspects, where Vic has been concentrating his efforts.
In layman’s terms, Cold Spray is a process in which tiny, micron-sized particles are injected into a heated, high-pressure gas stream and are then forced through a rocket nozzle, which accelerates them to supersonic velocities. When these particles exit the rocket nozzle, they are impacted against a surface, which causes them to consolidate and form a solid, dense material, without melting.
“This is one of the unique aspects of Cold Spray,” explains Vic. “You can form very dense wear and corrosion resistant coatings or you can produce parts out of materials not possible before this technology came into being. Cold spray allows the formation of novel high strength materials unachievable with conventional processing,” he continues.
As a research scientist, Vic’s work in Cold Spray technology has led to many advances for the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as for other commercial industries. “Cold Spray is considered a dual technology because of its various applications outside of the defense industry. Currently, it is helping to build the economic base in this country in the automotive industry, electronics and aerospace, just to name a few,” shares Vic. “This dual usage has meant that I have had to wear many hats throughout my career.”
In addition to being a research scientist, Vic is a program manager, working to implement emerging technologies and to bring them into practice. He recognized early in his career that just excelling in a particular technology is not enough. “Our global marketplace demands that we become life-long learners,” states Vic. “For example, scientists, lawyers, doctors and the like must become educated outside the technical part of their professions and learn to deal with the tangible aspects of growing a business. To stay ahead of the competitive curve, we need to be diversified in our knowledge base beyond a particular area of expertise.”
Vic believes his studies at AMC prepared him to stay on top of the power curve. He chose the College’s MBA program over others because of its flexible schedule and practical approach to education. “We learned from experts in the field, not just from textbooks,” Vic shares. “Anna Maria’s MBA helped me learn about objectives and deadlines, how to deal effectively with personnel issues, and how to be a good communicator. We also learned to write proposals and to understand finances. Without these skills, I would not have been able to have achieved so much,” he adds.
Vic’s personal conviction regarding the pursuit of the mind has spiraled him to the top of his profession. In addition to being the editor of the first comprehensive reference book on the subject of Cold Spray technology, he has received several top awards from the Army, including the prestigious U.S. Army Research and Development Achievement Award. He has also helped develop cold spray technology as part of a NATO treaty with the United Kingdom and Australia and he will soon be out again on the circuit as a keynote speaker in Japan and Australia.
Vic continues to share his passion for learning with graduate students at both WPI and Penn State as a Ph.D. advisor and research associate. He also hopes to formally teach one day and to help students to think globally, not just locally; and to not confine themselves to one area but to make education a life-long pursuit.