University of Delaware
UD students watch as a test is conducted on one of their bridges.

Sampling SAMPE

UD students have strong presence at international materials conference


1:09 p.m., June 20, 2011--A group of UD engineering students recently returned from the SAMPE 2011 International Conference in Long Beach, Calif., with several awards as well as valuable exposure to the global composites industry and career opportunities.

A contingent of University of Delaware engineering students recently returned from an international materials symposium with not only eight awards but also an introduction to the global composites industry and a new understanding of career opportunities in the field.

Honors Stories

National Medal of Science

President Barack Obama recently presented the National Medal of Science to University of Delaware alumnus Rakesh Jain.

Warren Award

Rosalind Johnson, assistant dean for student success in the NUCLEUS Program in UD's College of Arts and Sciences, was presented the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award during a May 26 ceremony.

Eighteen students affiliated with UD’s Center for Composite Materials (CCM) attended SAMPE 2011 in Long Beach, Calif., from May 23-26. The international conference and exhibition has been hosted annually for more than half a century by SAMPE, the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering. 

At the 14th annual SAMPE Student Bridge Contest, held in conjunction with the conference, UD submitted entries in six of seven contest divisions, winning a top award in one category and placing in the others in competition with schools around the world. 

In addition, Zach Melrose and Sarah Friedrich, both UD mechanical engineering majors advised by Assistant Professor Erik Thostenson, received first and second place, respectively, for their undergraduate research on the use of carbon nanotubes for in-situ damage sensing in composites. For more, see this UDaily article.

According to Ph.D. student John Gangloff, Jr., who has been involved as a SAMPE chapter leader at UD for the past several years, the bridge contest requires students to design and build a two-foot-long model of a composite bridge, including documenting the materials used and the manufacturing method employed. Categories cover a range of materials—glass, carbon, and natural fibers—and cross sections—square beams, I-beams, and box beams.

“The contest enables engineering students to learn and expand their abilities in manufacturing and design,” Gangloff says. “It helps reinforce and apply the theories that we learn in class and provides a great opportunity for us to interact with and learn from other teams.”

Melrose, who graduated from UD in January 2011 and is now working for the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., says his first-place research award solidified his decision to continue his research with Thostenson as a graduate student at UD, beginning in the fall.

“Dr. Thostenson’s guidance allowed me to further my education beyond the textbook and granted me hands-on access to begin my nanomaterials research,” Melrose says. “I am really excited to begin my graduate studies at UD knowing that our school brought home first- and second-place honors in composite research.

“As a finalist in the competition,” he adds, “I was invited to partake in technical lectures, broaden my networks by meeting other student and professional researchers, and present my research and findings to one of the largest and most influential audiences in the country,” he said. “I valued this once-in-a-lifetime offer as the true award of the competition and took full advantage of the lectures and opportunities at my fingertips.”

Thostenson credits SAMPE with hosting an excellent student program and helping to develop future leaders. 

“Both Sarah and Zach have been involved with SAMPE for the past several years, and Sarah served as secretary of the UD chapter during the 2010-2011 academic year,” he says. “Both of them have also made outstanding progress in their undergraduate research over the past two years. They started working in my laboratory after their sophomore year as Science and Engineering Scholars in UD’s Undergraduate Research Program.” 

In addition to being advised by Thostenson, the students were mentored by Amanda Wu, a postdoctoral researcher at CCM. In an interesting twist, both Wu and Thostenson participated in the Ph.D. portion of the SAMPE symposium when they were students and won first place in that competition, Thostenson in 2002 and Wu in 2008.

Gangloff, who has been president of the UD chapter during the past year, said he is grateful to the College of Engineering and to CCM and director John W. (Jack) Gillespie for supporting the students’ ongoing involvement in SAMPE and their attendance at the international symposium. 

“Dr. Gillespie is very forward-thinking in his understanding of this competition and what it means to us as students and future employees in the composites field,” he says.  “The meeting showed us that the future really is composites.”

CCM Awards

Student Symposium:

  • 1st place B.S. category: Zach Melrose, “Damage Sensing in Adhesively Bonded Composite/Steel Joints Using Carbon Nanotubes”
  • 2nd place B.S. category: Sarah Friedrich, “The Influence of Calendering on Carbon Nanotube/Polymer Composites for In-Situ Damage Sensing”

Bridge Contest:

  • 1st place: Natural Fiber Square Beam
  • 2nd place: Natural Fiber I-Beam
  • 3rd place: Glass Fiber Box Beam 
  • 4th place: Glass Fiber I-Beam and Glass Fiber Box Beam (two entries)
  • 6th place: Carbon Fiber Box Beam
  • 9th place: Carbon Fiber I-Beam

About CCM 

Founded in 1974, CCM conducts basic and applied research, educates scientists and engineers, and develops and transitions technology. Since 1985, CCM has been designated a center of excellence through seven programs. The center has some 250 affiliated personnel, more than $12 million in annual expenditures, and over 2,000 alumni worldwide. More than 3,500 companies have benefited from affiliation with CCM over the past three decades.


SAMPE, an international professional member society, provides information on new materials and processing technologies through chapter technical presentations, two journal publications, symposia and commercial expositions in which professionals can exchange ideas and air their views. As the only technical society encompassing all fields of endeavor in materials and processes, SAMPE provides a unique and valuable forum for scientists, engineers, designers
and academicians.

Article by Diane Kukich

News Media Contact

University of Delaware
Communications and Public Affairs

UDaily is produced by
Communications and Public Affairs

The Academy Building
105 East Main Street
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 | USA
Phone: (302) 831-2792