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Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Multiscale Analysis of Aero-Structures for Hypersonic Vehicles

Materials used for components at elevated temperatures are oftentimes subject to both (1) low rate, high amplitude mechanical loading due to conventional cycling and (2) high rate, low amplitude stresses due to vibration. Two materials, namely IN617 and Ti-6242S, need to be better understood to solve the U.S. aerospace industry’s next grand challenge – hypersonic travel. Both NASA and the U.S. Air Force have identified reusable hypersonic platforms as the next transportation mode. Loads that are anticipated on several high-value components (e.g., fuselage panels, thrust nozzles) will be facilitated by super-imposed thermal (air friction), acoustic (aero-dynamic pressure), and mechanical (constraint) sources. Microstructural mechanisms associated with fatigue crack nucleation under service-oriented conditions have yet to be characterized. To fill this critical knowledge gap, research is needed to implement a prognostics model (in MATLAB) capable of accounting for creep, fatigue, and corrosive damage.

The Mechanics of Materials Research Group at UCF ( endeavors to develop advanced constitutive models for deformation and lifing methods for crack nucleation and early propagation for materials under aggressive conditions. Both graduate and undergraduate students are routinely exposed to experimental, theoretical, and computational mechanics. In the proposed research module, combined extreme environments (CEE) experiments will be performed and the deformation response, ruptured specimen surface, and cycle life will be used to further develop mechanics models. Even though students will be exposed to a myriad of mechanical testing, finite element analysis, regression modeling, etc., they will be expected to concentrate on making progress in one focus area.

Aerospace Engineering

Next generation hypersonic platform with critical fuselage panels highlighted. 


Piezospectroscopy at High Strain Rates

The mechanics of materials under high strain rates are of significance for the development of impact resistant structures to meet the extreme conditions aircraft and spacecraft experience as well as protective materials for ballistics and armor applications. The Split Hopkinson bar is an apparatus used for testing materials under high strain rates.

Our research group at UCF has developed a new capability for static stress sensing using piezospectroscopy that leverages the photo-luminescent stress sensing capability of alumina, which can be used as a non-contact pressure sensor under external loads. We have recently shown promising results with high strain rates representing explosive or impact events at Boeing’s Shock physics laboratory. The current instrumentation when coupled with the Split Hopkinson bar is limited to collecting a small sample of points during testing and has potential to operate faster, and with less measurement error. This would involve modifying the optics of the equipment, preparing samples for testing and running experiments with our collaborators in Boeing Research and Technology as well as the Air Force Research laboratories. For students involved, this research project will provide experience in development of experiments in mechanics, analysis of data relating to spectroscopy and stress, and scientific writing and presentation.

Graduate student Stephen Sofronsky conducts high strain rate testing at Boeing Shock Physics Laboratory. 

Related Graduate Programs 

Mechanical Engineering PhD

Aerospace Engineering MSAE

Mechanical Engineering MSME




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