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Composites Center hosts incoming EarlyConnect freshmen

August 19, 2013 —

Dora Gerardo, an incoming freshman in Mechanical Engineering and Rebeca Thweatt, an incoming freshman in Chemical Engineering visited the M C Gill Composites Center on Aug 19, 2013 for a 4-hour tour of the laboratories and hands-on demonstrations of composite prepreg fabrication and mechanical testing. Both undergraduate students were part of the EarlyConnect Conference program. Prof. Steven Nutt is the director of the M. C. Gill Composites Center.


The 5 day EarlyConnect Conference (ECC) is a conference for incoming African-American, Latino and Native American incoming freshmen to connect with peers, current Viterbi students, Viterbi staff, Viterbi faculty, and industry partners while participating in networking events, team and community building. You can read more about the EarlyConnect Conference program here.


Lee Hamill and Yijia Ma, graduate students in the department of Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science showed Rebeca and Dora how to layup and cure a carbon fiber prepreg laminate. The group then went on a tour of the various labs and finally performed low velocity drop impact tests on prepreg laminates. Lee and Yijia also shared their respective experiences in undergraduate and graduate school with the freshmen.



L-R: Dora Gerardo, Rebeca Thweatt, Lee Hamill, and Yijia Ma laying up a carbon fiber prereg laminate



The freshmen students learn about the drop impact testing of composites samples


The following are brief interviews with both undergraduate students about their experience at the composites center…


Q: What did you learn during your lab demonstration and were you excited by what you saw and learnt?
Dora: I was exposed to material science and it's a topic that I previously had no knowledge of. I learned the basics of composites and it was definitely exciting.

Rebeca: I learned how to layer and cure a composite material to make a strong rigid material from a specific flimsy one. I also learned how to test the properties and various strength levels of the material. I was able to participate in an activity that involved testing the impact strength of such a material. I was excited to learn about how different materials are tested for strength and durability among other things and to hear about some possible applications such tests could have, particularly regarding tissue engineering because I am interested in working in a medical-related field.


Q: Would you be interested in learning more about composites?
: I would definitely like to learn more about composites. It's a very interesting subject.

Rebeca: I would be interested in learning more about composites and more about how the material tests we learned about can apply to the chemical and biomedical field.


Q: How was your experience with the graduate students?

Dora: The grad student instructors were great. They were very patient and informative. They were encouraging during the demonstration and kept myself and Rebecca engaged the entire time.

Rebeca: My grad student instructors were incredibly friendly and instructive. They were very engaging and made the session interesting and enjoyable.