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Research by Aerospace Engineering Department Chair and Minta Martin Professor of Engineering Norman Wereley along with aerospace engineering undergraduate students Ben Stutzke and Vivek Uppoor has been featured by Aerospace America in the article, “Inspired by fish.

The team devised a wing section that is similar to the skeleton core of a fish. Stutzke and Uppoor assisted Wereley with the 3D printed design and proof of concept for the wing section.

Among their many tasks, the students had to create a design that is both tear-resistant and durable. A honeycomb structure was developed and printed that Stutzke said in the article, “gives it a lot of strength.” The honeycomb structure is also covered in a polymer that gives it an elastic property, allowing the design to stretch in one direction without losing dimension in the other direction.  

Of the students, Wereley said, “Even though they are still young engineers, they are incredibly creative, innovative and fearless."

The unique design allows the wing section’s curvature to be morphed, unlike current wing sections that adjust by extending or retracting flaps.

“The idea was to have a flexure to do the bending and get the camber and have the spines go off to create the shape you would need for the airfoil surface,” Wereley said in Aerospace America.

The concept for the design was started by doctoral student, Benjamin Woods, nearly a decade ago.

The students and Wereley hope to test the wing on a small unmanned aircraft in the future.



February 7, 2020


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