AME 60646 - Failure of Materials


How would you determine the cause of failure for a structural component? How would you evaluate the design a new structural component for all anticipated modes of failure? Were the ceramic tiles to blame in the recent Space Shuttle disaster? If so, how can their toughness be improved for future manned space flights? Can engineers learn anything from biology about how to design failure resistant materials? These questions and a host of similar questions will be addressed in AME 60646– Failure of Materials.


AME 20241, CBE 30361 (or consent of the instructor).

The course content will be taught at a graduate level but will be suitable for undergraduates in good academic standing. Undergraduates with an interest in graduate school will especially benefit from this course.

Objectives and Content:

The goal of this course is to provide a fundamental framework for understanding and preventing the failure of engineering materials. For both fracture and fatigue, emphasis is given to the 1) underlying physical mechanisms, 2) material structure-property relationships, and 3) theories, models, and their limitations. The course will cover content applicable to a diverse spectrum of career interests – such as aerospace structures, bioengineering, manufacturing, materials engineering, mechanical design and quality control – enabling students to engineer materials for current and future generations of technology. Many actual case studies of material failure will be used to support the concepts. Specific concepts and topics to be covered include the following: Anisotropy, biomaterials, ceramics, cleavage, composites, crystallography, ductile fracture, energy methods, failure analysis, failure criteria, fatigue, fracture mechanics (linear elastic, elastic-plastic and viscoelastic), material testing, metals, microstructure, plasticity, polymers, texture, R-curve behavior, stress intensity factor, toughening mechanisms, Weibull modulus.

Coursework will include homework assignments, a class project, a midterm and a final exam. Homework and the class project will require the use of modern mathematical software such as Matlab, Mathcad, Mathematica, and the like. The class project will comprise a failure analysis which will include a written paper, oral presentation, and possibly hands-on laboratory experience.