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Advancing Composites Education And Training Through Curriculum Design

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Building a Community in Materials

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.163.1 - 11.163.9



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Paper Authors

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George Gray

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Advancing Composites Education and Training through Curriculum Design

George D. Gray

Applied and Engineering Technologies Division Wichita Area Technical College


This paper will outline the increasing occurrence of polymer composite material applications within industry and the challenges facing post-secondary educational institutions to adequately prepare engineers and engineering technologists/technicians. It will also address the many facets of composites and how to develop coursework to meet both the fundamental concepts of composites along with addressing specific hands-on fabrication practices and applications.

Composite material usage is experiencing continuous growth in a variety of application areas including automotive, aviation, recreation, and building products. Both design engineers and consumers are seeing the many benefits provided by the unique characteristics of this modern day family of materials. Composites are an excellent example of how different types of materials can work in synergy. The aircraft industry is going through a metamorphosis regarding the use of composite materials, as evidenced by Boeing’s recent announcement on its totally new designed composite 787 (Dreamliner) aircraft. As a result, many aircraft companies are seeking to re-tool their workforce. It is a paradigm shift for their employees who have years of experience working with metals and now must begin working with composites. In this industry, one course does not fit all, because of such varying degrees of the knowledge base along with the specific application requirements put forth by the industry users. Working with such dynamic materials and processes in conjunction with meeting the needs of designers and manufacturers will continue to challenge educational institutions in the future.


The vast world of composites has grown rapidly and significantly since its first large scale applications within the military sector during WWII and the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The unique combination of performance benefits offered by composite materials has now propelled its use into almost every industry sector within today’s global economy. Composites or more specifically, Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP), consist of a polymer matrix, usually a thermoset plastic and a variety of reinforcements, including glass, carbon (graphite) and aramid (Kevlar) fibers. It is this unique combination of complementary properties that, when combined, create an entirely new material with very specific characteristics. This makes the design and use of composites more desirable than some of the more traditional materials in many different applications. To show the impact on society that composites has had, the growth rate in the

Gray, G. (2006, June), Advancing Composites Education And Training Through Curriculum Design Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--73

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