Students Research Failure Strength and Failure Mechanisms in New Aircraft Composite Materials

September 2, 2022
Aerospace Composite Structural Mechanics Laboratory

ACSM Lab Summer Research Program Participants: (left to right: Roberto Fierros, Jeron Rolins, Tyler Felgenhauer, Rommel Pineda, Emma Topolcsik, Jarod Heise, Dr. Paulina Diaz-Montiel, Julia Hong, Gabriela Ayala, Amada Goering, Liam Mays and Professor Satchi Venkataraman)

Satchi Venkataraman's Aerospace Composite Structural Mechanics Lab at SDSU organized a 10-week summer program in which undergraduate and graduate students participated. The ACSM lab summer research participants were funded by the CA Space Grant Consortium and SDSU MESA program. Students worked on fabrication, testing, modeling and analysis of new aircraft structural composite materials. Topics students worked on included bioinspired porous materials Design, CFRP composite and CFRP-Metal hybrid laminate splice joint testing, fabrication, analysis and testing of composite with ply waviness, and micromechanical modeling of fiber waviness using image reconstruction from synchrotron images.

We caught up with two of the participants, Mechanical engineering
major Julia Hong and Aerospace Engineering Major Emma Topolcsik.

Julia Hong research investigated a new type of hybrid composite material that combines metals foils within layered carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite,. Her experiments were aimed at understanding how the splice joints between CFRP laminates and CFRP-Steel Hybrid Laminate fails. She tested these splice joints between by pulling it (tension load) or bending it in a materials test frame. Her testing showed splice joints with longer metal strips or longer transition lengths in the splice joint area fail gradually (ductile manner) compared to the abrupt (brittle failure).

Julia joined the lab as part of SDSU’s Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program summer research academy. She gained skills in machining, solid modeling, microscopy, testing, analyzing results, and presenting a poster. She said she appreciated the support she received in the lab from individuals of various backgrounds, including graduate, undergraduate, local and international students. Hong will continue her research in Dr. Venkataraman’s lab this fall.

Emma Topolcsik, another senior Aerospace Engineering student spent here summer working on designing porous materials that have fractal shaped pores. This project was inspired from looking at porosity of ant nests. Topolcsik says it has been a “very rewarding and cool learning experience” to get to know Venkataraman and her peers in her first hands-on engineering project. She enjoyed discussing her project with others who have diverse knowledge and skills, even if they are working on other materials.

Learn more about the lab here. View more photos of the lab here.