Proudly from a tiny little town in south central Tennessee near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, called Coldwater, mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, Jordan French says, “I have always been interested in space exploration. Growing up riding dirt bikes, building race-cars, and flying in airplanes, mechanical engineering becomes a natural obsession.”

“As a ‘War Eagle’ undergrad at Auburn University, I became heavily involved in composite structure manufacturing and design, while working at Griffon Aerospace. There, I worked on a composite cryotank program that helped me identify some of the existing issues that inhibit applications in the space launch system. This matured into a passion for solid mechanics and failure of fiber reinforced polymer composites, and ultimately led me to pursue a Ph.D.”

Jordan adds, “As a Ph.D. post-BS student searching all over the country for researchers who would be interested in this problem, and who had the ability to help the project succeed, I found Dr. Michael Czabaj here at the University of Utah. As I’ve gotten to know Dr. C more and more, his knowledge, experience, and reputation in the composites community is unprecedented. I’m honored to being working under his leadership.”

Jordan FrenchJordan’s research specifically targets emerging composite cryogenic fuel tank technology for rocket propulsion. The superior specific strength and stiffness properties of fiber reinforced polymers’ (FRP) can help facilitate a significant decrease in structural weight of space launch vehicles needed to improve NASA’s capabilities for long-endurance space exploration missions.

The experimental data from a novel biaxial testing apparatus will provide understanding of composite laminate failure modes under biaxial loading conditions that lead to crack growth and propagation. This data will enable future progressive damage failure theories to confidently predict and evaluate the structural efficiency of next generation space exploration vehicles.

The goal of the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship is to allow a creative avenue for promising graduate students to explore new space technologies for our Nation’s science, exploration, and economic future. Jordan French has been selected for this fellowship to support NASA’s materials, structures, and manufacturing technology roadmap. His research aims to produce unprecedented insight into the damage initiation and evolution of biaxially stressed composite structures at cryogenic temperatures.

To learn more about Jordan French and Dr. Michael Czabaj’s research on this and other projects, please visit the Utah Composites Laboratory.