Mechanical and aerospace engineering students at the University of Missouri-Rolla can now make large, complex composite parts for research and student design and competition projects, thanks to the efforts of a UMR alumnus who helped secure a recent donation of an autoclave from Boeing for the department.
Autoclaves are the most widely used method of producing high-quality composites in the aerospace industry, says Dr. K. Chandrashekhara, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UMR.
"This equipment donation from Boeing significantly enhances our repertoire of state-of-the-art composites manufacturing facilities and faculty expertise at UMR," says Dr. Ashok Midha, chair of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at UMR. "It benefits our students through education, design and research projects, and preparing them for challenging careers."
The donated autoclave, installed at the Missouri Enterprise Business Assistance Center in Rolla, will complement UMR’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing composites manufacturing project, funded by Air Force Research Laboratory and Boeing.
"Composites have a huge future in many industry product applications," says UMR graduate Frank Statkus, vice president of advanced technology and processes for the Boeing 7E7 program in Everett, Wash. "The development of these composites is in its infancy. With this autoclave, UMR now has the capability to work with industry for composite utilization and application, develop valuable intellectual properties, and expand facility and student capabilities within this state-of-the-art technology."
The autoclave will also allow UMR to train industry personnel, such as suppliers for Boeing, says Dr. Robert Mitchell, dean of the School of Engineering at UMR. "I think our imagination is the only limit to what we might be doing here in Rolla with this equipment," Mitchell adds.