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Design, Build, Test of Composites for Supersonic Ping Pong Balls



Education of composite materials at the undergraduate (junior year) level requires a different set and knowledge of understanding than is taught at the graduate level. Additionally, undergraduates learn by doing; seeing things and physically understanding how they perform helps to reinforce the different concepts. This paper will cover a semester based project that has students design build and test a composite material that must withstand the impact a supersonic Ping-Pong ball. This extreme use helps motivate the students in two ways. First it provides a very different type of experiment keeping them motivated. Second it provides an open ended solution that allows students to think differently and enables creativity in solutions. During the semester students fabricate the materials and test them to get a better understanding of their response and material constants. The final competition is a weight based solution compared to the other groups in the class. During the impact event high speed videos of the impact are taken so that students can get a better idea of how their structures withstand the impact.

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