September 1, 2015

Topic: Materials in Extreme Environments – The Space Shuttle Columbia’s Next Great Journey
Speaker: Dr. Stephen Stafford, PE

Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2015


5:30 – Social Hour
6:30 – Dinner
7:30 – Presentation

Location: Seasons 52 (near Galleria).
4410 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77027

Free for students

Materials in Extreme Environments – The Space Shuttle Columbia’s Next Great Journey

About the Topic: NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia sustained a catastrophic failure on its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere a little over twelve years ago. A significant effort was made to understand how this could have happened. We know that a portion of the liquid fuel tank (LFT) insulating foam released upon the launch damaging the port-side wing. The reinforced carbon composite (RCC) was breached at the impact site resulting in hot gas ingestion, which created conditions leading to the loss of structural integrity and flight control during re-entry. The next chapter in the Columbia’s history will attempt to explore a number of the material systems, which were exposed to re-entry conditions to glean every aspect of their behavior and demise. In order to perform this analysis, Dr. John “Danny” Olivas and a number of engineering and science faculty, and technical staff members at UTEP have commissioned CASSMAR, The Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research. With the assistance of seven graduate and four undergraduate researchers, Columbia will continue to lend insights into the behavior of materials in high enthalpy and low-pressure conditions. This presentation will provide insights as to what is being studied and what information has been revealed to date.

About the Speaker: Dr. Stephen Stafford, PE, holds the Freeport-McMoRan Endowed Professorship in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at UTEP and has extensive experience in structural integrity assessment. He has been the recipient of ASM’s Bradley Stoughton Award for Young Teachers of Metallurgy, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Professor and the University of Texas Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award. His research interests have focused on material degradation mechanisms applicable to a variety of service environments to include gas turbines, aerospace and submersed structures, and bone and artificial joint replacement materials. He has two pending patents: one for additive manufacturing of turbine buckets and the other for carbon nanotube/polymer composites for artificial joint replacements. He has extensive experience in industry-academia partnerships and technology transfer from the research lab to industry.