Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Adjust Font Size: Normal Large X-Large

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.


Prerequisites by Topic:


  1. Deformable Body Mechanics (AEM 3031)




Agarwal, Analysis and Performance of Fiber Composites, 4th edition, Wiley.


Format of Course:


3 lecture hours per week


Computer Usage:


A computer program, Lamcalc, will be introduced about halfway through the semester.


Course Objectives:


Develop an understanding of the linear elastic analysis of composite materials, including anisotropic material behavior and the analysis of laminated plates.


Course Outcomes:


  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 provides an introduction to analysis of advanced composite which is important for aerospace engineers interested in structural design.


Relationship of course to student outcomes:


This course supports the following student outcomes:


  1. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgements, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental and societal contexts.
  3. An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed using appropriate learning strategies.


Outcome Measurement


This course is not used to directly measure any of the student outcomes.


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



Student Survey Questions:


In this course, I acquired the following:


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

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

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

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

5.      An ability to compute hygrothermal loads in composites.

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


Please answer the following questions regarding the course:


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

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

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

10.  The design project was appropriate for the course.

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



Last modified:





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