Engineering the bridge between basic science and societal impact: The role of composite materials

Sep 30

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm


Dr. Landon Grace, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Miami

The field of engineering relies heavily on fundamental science and mathematics to form the framework upon which we construct the world. As engineers, our role is to translate these fundamentals into real-world applications for the benefit of society. Four examples of ongoing research in the Composite Materials Lab at the University of Miami will be presented here, beginning with the basic science and mathematical background and culminating in the ultimate societal impact. The focus will be on the opportunities afforded by multi-phase and/or multi-functional materials, including: 1) a biocompatible styrene-isobutylene-styrene thermoplastic elastomer reinforced with nanoscale metal oxides and clays as the base material in orbital prostheses for post-exenteration cancer patients; 2)  improving performance of supersonic military aircraft by modelling the impact of fluid contamination on the mechanical and dielectric properties of a high performance bismaleimide-quartz composite;  3) reclaiming steel-industry waste product for use in a microcomposite designed to reduce point-source phosphorous pollution in the Everglades;  4) and lastly, a proprietary composite film for combating post-operative vision loss during brain and spinal surgeries.


Dr. Landon Grace is currently an assistant professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Miami, where he also serves as the director of the Composite Materials Laboratory and holds the title of inaugural Junior Faculty Scholar. Dr. Grace is a former Palace Acquire Fellow with the U.S. Air Force, where he worked as an aerospace engineer for 5 years prior to joining the faculty at Miami. His current research projects cross into nearly every engineering discipline, and have been funded by organizations as diverse as the Department of Defense (mechanical/aerospace), the Al Rashid Orbital Vision Research Center (biomedical/electrical), NASA (aerospace), and the Everglades Foundation (civil/environmental). The common thread among these projects is polymer composites and the functionality that can be achieved by multi-phase materials. Dr. Grace focuses his attention on translating the fundamental science of these materials into real-world applications through collaborative, multidisciplinary research.