Winning the AeroDef Manufacturing Poster Challenge this past March was a very special experience for me. My interest in the aerospace and defense industries traces back to my time as an electronic warfare systems specialist in the US Air Force. After serving six years with the Air Force Special Operations Command, and deploying multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, I decided to use my GI Bill benefits to pursue my electrical engineering degree.
Two years into my undergraduate studies, I was given the opportunity to participate in a National Science Foundation (NSF) summer research experience program, known as REVAMP (Research Experience for Student Veterans in Advanced Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship) for STEM-focused veterans at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI).
Following this program, I was offered a research assistant position to continue my work with REVAMP program coordinator and a professor at Georgia Tech, Chuck Zhang, PhD, pertaining to the structural health monitoring of bonded composite structures at GTMI.
Our research focus addresses the current gap that exists between the increased use of structural composite components and the inability to fully ascertain quantitative repair-health data. With the development of an in situ structural health monitoring (SHM) solution, this blind spot may be addressed.
In response, we are developing embedded capacitance (Cp) sensing arrays for SHM of composite joining and repair (CJAR) techniques. These sensing arrays are placed within carbon-fiber and glass-fiber-reinforced polymer panels for the detection of damage and loading conditions. Sensors are comprised of a prepreg carbon-fiber tow electrode matrix, allowing changes in system Cp to be monitored in congruence with applied force. Combined with baseline data points, subsequent measurements can provide indication of applied force changes within bonded composite materials, affording the ability to detect minuscule deviations within CJAR structures.
The electrode array is also capable of producing in situ cure cycle monitoring data associated with applied forces and temperature via capacitance and resistance measurements. This form of SHM would provide data capable of efficiently influencing unscheduled and preventative maintenance actions, and may produce invaluable lifecycle information. The CJAR research we do at GTMI is something I am truly passionate about.
In March 2017, SME and its AeroDef Manufacturing event provided an amazing opportunity with the first-annual AeroDef Manufacturing Poster Challenge. Upon arrival, I felt honored just to be representing GTMI and our research work on “Embedded Capacitance Sensing Array for In Situ Structure Health Monitoring of Composite Joining and Repair.”
The conference environment was very educational and inviting. I made a point to attend the daily panel discussions, as they covered some excellent subject matter related to composites, additive manufacturing and the future of the defense industry. I was especially impressed with the industry backgrounds of these panelists, who represented prestigious universities, research labs and some amazing companies.
I also very much enjoyed the gathering of so many great students and research projects for the poster competition. Every one of the students participating in the challenge had produced some truly inspiring ideas. The opportunity to discuss our work, alongside industry information and suggestions, was in itself a very valuable experience.
Another highlight for me was the staff of the student competition, as they provided outstanding support. From the organizers to the judges, everyone took time out of their already busy schedules to assist and encourage student success. They all provided expert insight, and I received helpful feedback regarding my presentation and future plans. I truly believe that the AeroDef Manufacturing Poster Challenge experience has been of great benefit to my future.
Upon winning the first annual Poster Challenge, I cannot help but look back and be grateful to all of those who helped make this possible. From the opportunities offered by Georgia Tech and GTMI to SME and the AeroDef event staff, I am truly appreciative of the platform that has been provided for STEM students, like myself, to display their hard work and aspirations through the poster challenge.
I have since been approached by several professors, with regards to graduate school options, and am now making plans to follow through with this. It is my strong hope that all students will continue to pursue participation in the AeroDef Manufacturing Poster Challenge, as the benefits are absolutely fantastic.
2018 AeroDef Manufacturing Poster Challenge
Innovative submissions are currently being sought for SME’s 2018 AeroDef Manufacturing Poster Challenge. The poster challenge is designed to foster interest and provide the aerospace and defense manufacturing engineering community with new perspectives and innovative ideas. The competition is open to registered students in their junior or senior year of their undergraduate program; graduate-level degree engineering programs; and early engineers and industry research professionals (under 35).
Presentations will explore current research may be based on actual case studies. Participants are encouraged to submit a poster in the following areas (but are not limited to these areas):
- Additive manufacturing/3D printing
- Composites and advanced materials
- Industrial IoT
- Automation, assembly and robotics
- Precision machining and tooling
- Finishing and coatings
- Quality, measurement and inspection
- Manufacturing engineering and engineering technology
- Manufacturing engineering education
First prize is $750. Awardees must be present at the awards reception to accept the prizes. Deadline to submit is Jan. 15, 2018.