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Axial/Torsional Load Frame System for Testing Student-Designed Metamaterials

Department of Aerospace and Astronautics








This proposal requests funds to acquire an axial/torsional load frame for testing student-designed metamaterials in the Laboratory for Engineered Materials and Structures (LEMS) located in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics. Over the past five years, there have been more than 70 students trained in LEMS, 50 of which were undergraduates. Among them are 16 female and/or under-represented minority students. Also, those undergraduate interns received over 30 prestigious fellowships (e.g., NSF-REU, LSAMP, NASA Space Grant, and Mary Gates fellowships) and research awards (e.g., 1st Place Award for International Undergraduate Research Competition, AIAA SciTech Forum in 2017). Our undergraduate students have utilized the technologies we currently have available in LEMS to do highly creative and inspiring material and structural design work. Their work often led to technical publications in high impact journals like Nature Communications, where undergraduate participants have been listed as co-authors. Our undergraduate interns also leveraged this research experience to successfully find engineer positions in companies, like Boeing, Blue Origin, and SpaceX, after graduation. While the LEMS is well posed to provide material ‘design’ and ‘fabrication’ experience, the training on the aspect of material ‘testing’ has been hindered significantly by the lack of equipment. Particularly, our interns had a hard time conducting basic loading tests on the prototypes that they have designed. The current load frames available on campus often need financial support from advisors to cover shop charges, or they also have limited functionality in testing material prototypes. If we acquire the axial-torsional load frame, it would be the one and only free resource for students to use, that offers the versatile axial and torsional loading capabilities to test engineered materials. This equipment will be useful not only to students from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, but also to those from the Civil & Environmental Engineering, Material Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Bioengineering departments. In these departments, the mechanics of materials and structures form one of core subjects of instruction. However, most courses tend to focus only on in-class lectures without demonstrations. This axial/torsional load frame will contribute to balance in-class and in-laboratory experience for our engineering-majored students. This will be useful to students in different disciplines as well, e.g., arts and design.

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