Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Professor Rebecca Cortez


Composites, Structural Health Monitoring, Anisotropic, Orthotropic, Isotropic, Piezoelectric, Nanowires, Intelligent Structures


Structural health monitoring has the potential to allow composite structures to be more reliable and safer, then by using more traditional damage assessment techniques. Structural health monitoring (SHM) utilizes individual sensor units that are placed throughout the load bearing sections of a structure and gather data that is used for stress analysis and damage detection. Statistical time based algorithms are used to analyze collected data and determine both damage size and probable location from within the structure. While traditional calculations and life span analysis can be done for structures made of isotropic materials such as steel or other metals, composites are highly orthotropic in nature. Composites must then be analyzed experimentally for more reliable results of the current damage state, or in-situ with SHM. Current research focuses on utilizing both piezoelectric sensor actuator pairs for damage detection, as well as fiber and particle based sensors for strain state awareness. While each method has its drawbacks due to incidental discontinuities reducing structural properties or difficulty in implementation and accuracy, SHM is vital for the successful wide spread implementation of composite structures. Piezoelectric based acousto-ultrasonic based sensor networks are ideal for damage detection and localization but are difficult to imbed within composites and can reduce their properties. Fiber and particle based strain sensors are ideal for detection of deformation and stress state, but are difficult to repair and to detect damage of the structure.