Body Armor Research and Development Projects

On this page find:

Research and Development Grants

In recent years, NIJ has funded numerous research and development projects (see table below) to improve the body armor that protects our nation's public safety officers.

Project TitleGranteeAmountAward Number
​Soft Armor Non-Destructive Evaluation Test Method: Vibration Energy SignatureTest (VEST)​Purdue University$500,000​2014-MU-CX-K004
Evaluating the Impact of the NIJ Body Armor ProgramNORC$399,8842012-R2-CX-K008
Characterization of Stab/Slash WoundsWayne State University$175,1112011-DE-BX-K002
Characterization of Weapons used in Stab/Slash AttacksWayne State University$134,1102011-DE-BX-K003
Re-creation of Body Armor CasesWayne State University$199,6802011-IJ-CX-K006
Soft Armor Effects on Core Body TemperatureWayne State University$982,1472011-IJ-CX-K053
Decisionmaking Factors Influencing the Wearing of Body Armor: A National StudyNORC$383,6412011-IJ-CX-K056
Design Optimization of Integrated Multi-Play Armors by a Computational Tool (DO-IMPACT)Cornell University$677,5462007-DE-BX-K003
Physical and Environmental Effects on the Performance of Body ArmorPolice Executive Research Forum$405,5962009-SQ-B9-K112
Investigation of the Effects of Increased Coverage Area for Soft Body ArmorLawrence Technological University $399,6552007-DE-BX-K011

Body Armor Challenge: How Long Does Body Armor Really Last?

In FY 2012, NIJ took an innovative approach to developing a solution to a major body armor safety concern: Determining when an officer's vest needs to be replaced. Typically, replacement cycles are defined by the manufacturer's warranty. However, the integrity of a vest may vary because of differences in wear and tear, exposure to weather and other factors. NIJ seeks a method that can test the integrity of an individual officer's body armor without making the vest unfit for use.

The goal of the Body Armor Challenge is to empower end users who depend on this critical safety equipment to make informed decisions based on solid scientific evidence regarding the ballistic performance of the soft body armor they use.

Challenge Winner (Phase II)

In the U.S. Department of Justice’s first ever Challenge competition, the winning team for NIJ’s Body Armor Challenge was from Purdue University’s school of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering.  The team received a $25,000 prize for proposing a concept for testing the viability of in-service body armor called the Vibration Energy Signature Test (VEST). While very promising, this methodology will require further development to determine its ultimate viability. In addition to the winner, honorable mentions include teams from the Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management at Iowa State University; Southeast Efficiency Improvement Associates in South Carolina and the Center of Integrated Nanotechnologies and the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico.

Phase I Winners

Four teams were selected as winners of phase I of the Body Armor Challenge based on their innovative ideas for finding non-destructive ways to test the internal integrity of body armor. The finalists are researchers from:

  • Purdue University
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Iowa State University
  • An independent two-person team

The four finalists will share the first-round prize money of $25,000 and go on to compete in round two for the additional grand prize of $25,000.

Learn more about the Body Armor Challenge.

Date Modified: July 6, 2015