SPE ACCE 2013 scholarship winners announced

Keith Honaker-Schroeder (Michigan State University), Nick Smith (Purdue) and Sarah Stair (Baylor University) each will receive a scholarship of $2,000 for their projects on composites in ground transportation.

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The organizing committee for the SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE, Troy, Mich., USA) has announced winners of the group’s annual SPE ACCE Scholarship Awards for the 2013-2014 academic year. Winning students whose composites- intensive projects were judged to have the greatest potential impact on ground transportation were Keith Honaker-Schroeder of Michigan State University, Nick Smith of Purdue University, and Sarah Stair of Baylor University. Each student will receive a total scholarship of $2,000 USD ― sponsored by Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC, Lansing, Mich.) ―and will return to present the results of his or her research at next year’s SPE ACCE show, Sept. 8-11, 2014.

Honaker-Schroeder won the scholarship for a student enrolled in a Michigan institute of higher learning with the topic: "Exfoliated Graphene Nanoplatelet-High Density Polyethylene Nanocomposites and their Use in the Automotive Industry." Explaining how his work is applicable to ground transportation, Honaker-Schroeder says, "I'll be modifying a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) polymer matrix with a platelet-structured nanoparticle ― specifically, exfoliated graphene nanoplatelets (GnP). The resulting HDPE-GnP composites provide enhanced mechanical, electrical, and barrier properties, allowing for use in the manufacture of automotive fuel tank and fuel line systems to reduce vehicle weight."

Smith, of Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.), won a traditional SPE ACCE Graduate Scholarship for his topic, "Simulation of Compression Molded Composites using a High Volume Fraction of Long Fibers & Prepreg Precursor Material." About his project, Smith says, "One of the great challenges for short-fiber polymer composites is their large variability in strength. My research is specifically focused on predicting the orientation of fibers within composite components produced by compression molding with pre-impregnated short-fiber prepreg as a precursor. Success in this work will provide tools for design of high-performance parts with fiber aspect ratios over 2000 and fiber weight fractions over 50 percent. No currently available simulation tool accurately predicts the final orientation state or the strength variability found in parts made with this process, which is capable of producing parts at a cost and speed appropriate for the automotive industry."

Stair, of Baylor University (Waco, Texas, USA) also won a traditional SPE ACCE Graduate Scholarship for her topic, "Non-Destructive Characterization of Ply Orientation and Ply Type of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Laminates." About her work, Stair says, "Manufacturing laminate-based advanced composites can be difficult, and final parts don't always meet as-designed specs. For example, during molding, a ply might slip and rotate 5 degrees from its designated orientation, which could affect final molded-part properties. My research will determine the “as manufactured” ply orientation of each lamina in a fiber-reinforced part and the failure envelope associated with the final part. My long-term goal is to fully automate this process so any technician who is making a repair on a car or performing quality-control tests at a manufacturing facility can scan a part with the system I'm developing. All of the ply orientation and failure envelope calculations will be performed by the device and results will be displayed for the user."

For more information about the SPE ACCE, visit speautomotive.com/comp.htm.