Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ronald Bucinell




composite, structure, beam, bridge


The goal of this project was to demonstrate the applicability of natural composites in structural applications for objects with shorter intended life spans such as sports equipment. This was done by competing in the 16th Annual SAMPE Student Bridge Contest with a natural fiber, natural core composite I-beam in Long Beach, California on May 8th, 2013. The beam was to withstand 3,000 lbs under three-point-bending while maintaining a low weight. In order to compete, natural reinforcement fibers, natural core materials and a bonding matrix had to be identified; a beam within allowable contest dimensions had to be designed; and a feasible manufacturing process had to be developed and carried out. This report details the progression of the project and present its results by first offering some background on fiber-reinforced composite materials, their basic constituents and their manufacturing processes. It then provides some design specifications for the SAMPE Student Bridge Contest and a feasibility discussion of said specifications and potential manufacturing processes. Finally, the report will discuss the three beams made during this project, offer information on the competition beam's performance and some recommendations for next year's competition.