The whole of human civilization has been defined by materials – the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. The research done by Anoush Poursartip, Professor in the Department of Materials Engineering at the University of British Columbia is moving us into the Composite Age. Composite materials are essentially carbon fiber in a matrix of plastic. These materials are extremely strong and light, and cost less to produce than other materials, making them ideal for everyday objects like golf clubs, skis and even airplanes.
But how can you be sure a new material will work well for a specific application without bankrupting yourself making prototypes? Prof. Poursartip has designed computer software to simulate how an object will behave when it is made out of different types of material. These simulations take all of the risk out of the manufacturing process because you no longer have to build an entire airplane wing, which is half a football field in size, to find out that a certain material will not work for that purpose.
Prof. Poursartip’s research has led to a partnership with Boeing which has revolutionized their composites manufacturing. Because of his work, planes can fly further with less fuel, carry more passengers, and in turn give you a much better passenger experience.