Two UMD Students Win Spots in SAMPE University Research Symposium

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Aerospace Engineering Undergraduates Christopher Clark and Grace Johnson.

Two University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Aerospace Engineering undergraduates were selected for the 2024 Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE®) University Research Symposium Competition. As part of their selection, Christopher Clark and Grace Johnson will present their research papers at SAMPE’s 2024 Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX) this September.

Clark is a rising senior in Aerospace Engineering with a focus in Aeronautical Engineering and conducts research under the advisement of Dr. Wereley in the Composites Research Laboratory (CORE Lab).

His research paper, “Optimizing Specific Actuation Force of Soft Composite Pneumatic Artificial Muscles Using Additively Manufactured Components,” focused on the design, fabrication, and testing of contractile PAMs where aluminum end fittings are replaced with lightweight 3D-printed plastic.

Pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs) are soft composite actuators through which inflation, deflation, and transfer of external loads can be achieved. PAMs show exceptional specific actuation force when normalized by their weight, however end fittings are typically machined from aluminum. Lighter materials, such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS-R), could reduce the weight and increase the specific actuation force.

“Many hours of hard work have gone into my research over these past semesters, and I am excited to be able to share it with the composites and advanced materials community,” said Clark. “I am grateful for this opportunity and want to thank the SAMPE organization, my faculty advisor Dr. Norman Wereley, Graduate students Frank Cianciarulo and Colleen Murray, and my fellow undergraduates in the CORE Lab who’ve helped me along the way.”

Johnson is a rising senior in Aerospace Engineering and part of the Composites Research Laboratory (CORE Lab), where she also works closely with Ph.D. student Colleen Murray. On campus, she participates in intramural sports and is a Clark School Ambassador.

Her research project was "Enhancing Energy Absorption of Additively Manufactured Tubular Honeycomb Structures." The CORE Lab has done previous work with honeycomb structures and their uses in crashworthiness applications since honeycomb has a remarkably high strength-to-weight ratio and has great energy-absorbing properties. Combining that with the advantages of additive manufacturing, they were able to introduce more novel geometries and characteristics to honeycomb structures to further increase its energy-absorbing capabilities. This is especially applicable to aerospace and automotive industries for vehicle crash and impact scenarios.

“I'm really excited to get the opportunity to present my work at the University Research Symposium through SAMPE. Over the past year as a new member, SAMPE has provided so many opportunities for me to learn about all the new innovations in materials and processing engineering,” saif Johnson. “It's really cool that I now have the chance to present some of my research to others that are equally as passionate about the work that we do in the CORE Lab.”

Both Clark and Johnson aim to pursue graduate degrees post-graduation. Both students were also recognized with SAMPE Student Leadership Experience Awards earlier this year.

SAMPE University Research Symposium is a competitive program that sponsors select SAMPE student members to present the results of their technical research at CAMX each year. The best papers presented in each student category receive cash prizes.

Published July 9, 2024