Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM 4511: Mechanics of Composite Materials

Catalog Description



AEM 4511

Mechanics of Composite Materials

3 Credits


Catalog Description:


Analysis, design and applications of laminated and chopped fiber reinforced composites. Micro- and macro-mechanical analysis of elastic constants, failure and environmental degradation. Design project.


Course Web Address:


Prerequisites by Topic:


  1. Deformable Body Mechanics (AEM 3031)




Engineering Mechanics of Composite Materials, Daniel and Ishai, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2005.


Format of Course:


3 lecture hours per week


Computer Usage:


A computer program, Lamcalc, will be introduced about halfway through the semester. This program is available on the Unix machines in the IT Labs.


Course Objectives:


The objective for this course is to develop an understanding of the linear elastic analysis of composite materials. This understanding will include concepts such as anisotropic material behavior and the analysis of laminated plates. The students will undertake a design project involving application of fiber reinforced laminates.


Course Outcomes:


Students who successfully complete the course will demonstrate the following outcomes

by tests, homework, and design project.


  1. An ability to identify the properties of fiber and matrix materials used in commercial composites, as well as some common manufacturing techniques.
  2. An ability to predict the elastic properties of both long and short fiber composites based on the constituent properties.
  3. An ability to rotate stress, strain and stiffness tensors using ideas from matrix algebra.
  4. A basic understanding of linear elasticity with emphasis on the difference between isotropic and anisotropic material behavior.
  5. An ability to analyze a laminated plate in bending, including finding laminate properties from lamina properties and find residual stresses from curing and moisture.
  6. An ability to predict the failure strength of a laminated composite plate.
  7. A knowledge of issues in fracture of composites and environmental degradation of composites.
  8. An exposure to recent developments in composites, including metal and ceramic matrix composites.
  9. An ability to use the ideas developed in the analysis of composites towards using composites in aerospace design.


Relationship of course to program objectives:


This course includes topics in structural mechanics and aerospace. Both are program objectives.


Relationship of course to program outcomes:


This course provides the following outcomes:


  1. Apply mathematics
  2. System design
  3. Identify engineering problems
  4. Communication skills
  5. Engineering tools
  6. Materials
  7. Structures


Course Outline:


(Hrs, approx.)



Introduction to Composites


Composite Construction


Properties of Unidirectional

Long Fiber Composites


Short Fiber Composites


Linear Elasticity for Anisotropic Materials, Rotations of Stresses, Strains, etc.


Failure Criterion


Laminate Analysis


Residual Stresses


Fracture Mechanics of Composites


Environmental Issues


Composite Joints


Metal and Ceramic Matrix Composites                        


Applications of Composites


Design with Composites, Review


Outcome Measurement:


Outcomes will be measured through homework, exams and a design project.


Student Survey Questions:


This course improved by ability to do the following:


1.      Apply knowledge of math, science and engineering.


Please answer the following questions regarding the course:


2.      The level of work required in the course was appropriate for the credit given.

3.      My background in mathematics and deformable body mechanics was adequate.

4.      The course gave me a good overall introduction to composite materials.

5.      The design project was appropriate for the course.

6.      The computer program(s) used in the course were adequate.


In this course, I acquired the following:


7.      An ability to predict composite properties from fiber and matrix properties and volume fractions for both long and short fiber composites.

8.      An understanding of how anisotropic elasticity differs from isotropic elasticity.

9.      An ability to compute the properties of a composite laminate with any stacking sequence.

10.  An ability to predict the loads and moments that cause an individual composite layer and a composite laminate to fail.

11.  An ability to compute hygrothermal loads in composites.

12.  An understanding of how composites are used in the design of structures.


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Last Modified: 2007-07-24 at 10:04:45 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation