Materials in Action

Module aims

The aims of this course are to outline the procedures necessary to select a material for a given purpose.

·         To define the purpose of the item chosen for design.

·         To specify the operating regime (loads, environment etc.) of the chosen item.

·         To calculate the stresses and strains caused by the operating regime.

·         To list the relevant properties (chemical, physical, mechanical etc.) of candidate materials.

·         To consider environmental factors during the material selection process

·         To teach methods for materials selection under conflicting requirements and penalty functions

·         To list possible selection criteria and choose the criterion most appropriate to the circumstances.

·         To consider the effect of shape when selecting a material

·         To evaluate the candidate materials against the selected criteria.

·         To use ideas and principles from other lecture courses as an essential part of selecting a material.

·         To teach advanced issues regarding polymer composites, including failure

·         To present an overview of new and emerging materials, including nanomaterials and multifunctionality.

·         To teach the mechanics of cellular solids and design with sandwich structures

·         To teach on structural health monitoring of aerospace materials

·         To introduce non-destructive evaluation techniques for aerospace materials

Learning outcomes

Students become familiar with material selection in engineering design and design optimisation. Students become familiar with current issues with advanced composites, and emerging material developments. Understanding of practical constraints in engineering design. Familiarity with applications of cellular solids in aerospace engineering. Knowledge of design methods for sandwich plates against stiffness or strength constraints. Knowledge of techniques of non-destructive evaluation for aerospace materials.

Module syllabus

Introduction and review of stress analysis methods. General methodology to materials selection (Ashby methods) and the formulation of merit indices. Use of penalty functions for materials selection. Consider the effect of shape on materials selection. Effect of environment on materials selection and eco selection. Focus on polymer composites; issues and failure/fracture. Highlight the new and emerging developments in materials including nanomaterials and multifunctional materials. Industrial design. Mechanics of foams. Effects of the microstructure on the macroscopic response of cellular solids. Principles of sandwich construction. Design of sandwich beams and panels for stiffness. Collapse mechanisms of sandwich plates. Structural health monitoring of aerospace materials. Non-destructive evaluation techniques for aerospace materials.


AERO40005 Materials 1
AERO40008 Structures 1
AERO50004 Engineering Practice 2: Technical
AERO50005 Materials 2
AERO50008 Structures 2
AERO96004 Aircraft Structures (Mechanics of Composites)

Teaching methods

The course is delivered via use of powerpoint slides. Students are supplied with either details (i.e. relevant chapters) in the core text (Ashby Materials Selection for Mechanical Design) or handouts which are summary notes of the verbally presented material, together with copies of important (complex) figures and diagrams. Materials selection software (CES) will be available on the cluster and for download for the students to supplement the students’ knowledge of materials and selection processes.


Examined Assessment
2 hour written examination in January (100%)

Non-Examined Assessment
Peer-marked test

Reading list

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