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Cool Co-op Project: Changing the Future of Flight

Today’s post is written by computer science engineering student, Tyler Moore.  Tyler is sharing a cool project that he worked during his experience at GE Aviation.  


The aviation industry is currently overhauling a very important aspect of flight – the use of composite materials and how to effectively utilize them to reduce weight and increase strength. While working in Baltimore, Maryland during the Fall 2013 semester, I worked at one of GE Aviation’s facilities – Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS). MRAS primarily focuses its resources on the development and construction of nacelles and thrust reversers for a wide range of aircraft.


My last major project at MRAS was to redesign a set of carbon fiber panels by replacing the current support structure with a hollow design that could still withstand the forces applied during high stress failure modes. I was one of five engineers working on a broader composite advancement project, and one of two engineers working on the design overhaul of the carbon fiber panels mentioned above. As a two man team, we developed a series of programs that when synchronized, strategically built, tested and optimized over 1,500 possible designs. We altered almost every aspect of these panels including height, width, composite materials used, composite material layup, ramp angles, etc. and when it was all said and done, our optimization loop established a design that increased the bucking strength by over 120% and reduced the weight of each panel by 10%. Furthermore, while working on a closeout design for the end panels, one of my designs turned out to be the most effective and was selected as the final design choice. The team I worked with continued to do validation on the panels after I left and have still not been able to force unpredicted failure modes on the panel. As of last month, these panels are scheduled for production as early as the end of 2014 and will be used on several major commercial airliners.


"How strange is this combination of proximity and separation.  That ground, seconds away, thousands of miles away."
-Charles A. Lindbergh