Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 4

Day 4, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My host picked me up early to meet with the department chair.  She welcomed me to UTP and I was given a nice vacant office.  I set up my Surface Pro and it connected seamlessly to the university guest network. I replied to some work emails, called my spouse, and started doing final preparations for the afternoon short course on Introduction to Composite Materials.

Course Title: Introduction to Composite Materials

Course Description: This would be a six-period course of 50 minutes each where the mechanics of composite materials is presented. Because of the limitation of six-period time, we will concentrate on a short introduction to composites (2 periods), and macromechanics of a lamina (4 periods).

Photo: Half of the airframe of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is made of advanced composite materials (Courtesy: Boeing Aircraft Company)

More than 25 graduate students from various engineering disciplines showed up.  Along with the domestic students, there were international students from Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia.

I presented an overview of composite materials including classification, history, applications, manufacturing, advantages, and drawbacks, etc.  We also went through a concept inventory of the background materials from the mechanics of materials course. The results and ensuing discussion was quite revealing to them as well as me, and the misconceptions were similar to what I observed back in the USA.  It confirmed to me that learning in higher education has room for improvement throughout the world.  At the end of today’s class, several students talked to me at length about their research projects in areas such as welding, plates and shell mechanics, and nanocomposites.  They also liked the interactivity of the class and I was glad to see them staying engaged for three hours (yes, we did take a short break in between).


This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Author: Autar Kaw

Autar Kaw (http://autarkaw.com) is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He has been at USF since 1987, the same year in which he received his Ph. D. in Engineering Mechanics from Clemson University. He is a recipient of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award. With major funding from NSF, he is the principal and managing contributor in developing the multiple award-winning online open courseware for an undergraduate course in Numerical Methods. The OpenCourseWare (nm.MathForCollege.com) annually receives 1,000,000+ page views, 1,000,000+ views of the YouTube audiovisual lectures, and 150,000+ page views at the NumericalMethodsGuy blog. His current research interests include engineering education research methods, adaptive learning, open courseware, massive open online courses, flipped classrooms, and learning strategies. He has written four textbooks and 80 refereed technical papers, and his opinion editorials have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune.

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