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University of Iowa News Release


May 26, 2009

UI engineer wins $390,000 U.S. Air Force grant for composite materials study

Olesya Zhupanska, University of Iowa College of Engineering assistant professor of mechanical engineering and researcher in the Center for Computer-Aided Design, has received a $390,000 U.S. Air Force grant to study the effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields on the failure of composite materials.

She said that composite materials are particularly recognized as ones that have a significant impact on the development of a variety of industries, national security, energy conservation efforts, and many other aspects of our lives. The superior performance of fiber-reinforced polymer composites has already made them highly attractive for advanced aerospace applications. The U.S. Air Force's F-22 Raptor consists of 25 percent composites by weight, the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35 Lightning II) is about 25-30 percent, and the new Boeing 787 is about 50 percent composites by weight.

The research objective of the current study is to elucidate the dynamic processes occurring in composites as a result of the application of transient electromagnetic and mechanical loads and advance our fundamental knowledge of field interactions in hybrid and anisotropic materials through theoretical analysis and novel experimental studies, she said.

Zhupanska has been actively collaborating with the Air Force Research Laboratory in the area of multifunctional composites during the past five years. The current project, sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, builds upon the accomplishments of that collaboration.

Her work in composites has been recognized by her receiving a number of prestigious awards, including the Elsevier Young Composites Researcher Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)/Boeing Structures & Materials Award, and the American Society for Composites Best Paper Award. She currently is working as an Air Force Summer Faculty Fellow at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Zhupanska, who joined the UI faculty in 2007, currently has research interests that include the mechanics of multifunctional composite and nanocomposite materials. She earned her doctorate in the mechanics of solids and applied mathematics from Kiev National Taras Shevchenko University, Ukraine, in 2000.

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