Composites for Offshore Applications: A Multidisciplinary Education Program for the Marine Industry

by Diane S. Kukich, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,
Vistasp M. Karbhari, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,
John W. Gillespie, Jr., Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Civil Engineering in the Oceans V


Composites are increasingly being considered for offshore and other marine structural applications. Polymeric matrix composites reinforced with glass, carbon, and aramids offer substantial weight-reduction capabilities, in addition to increased corrosion and fatigue resistance. Coupled with lower maintenance costs and ease of fabrication, these properties make composites attractive materials for use in the offshore industry. It is expected that their use will increase dramatically by the twenty-first century for applications such as platform decks and structures, risers and drill-pipes, tubing, and storage tanks. Unfortunately, education in the area of advanced materials for such applications currently lags behind technology, resulting in applications being designed by aerospace and automotive engineers without a proper understanding of the various related structural design and environmental issues. The current focus on aerospace and automotive applications has led to a lack of curricula and training for engineers using composites and advanced materials for off-shore applications. This, in turn, has resulted in the almost negligible use of composites for offshore applications. In this paper, we discuss the education needs of engineers using composites in the offshore industry in this decade and into the twenty-first century. Issues to be addressed include the environment which such materials must withstand and performance/cost relationships. The multidisciplinary composites program is formulated based on the diverse educational needs of undergraduate- and graduate-level academic programs as well as the continuing education needs of practicing engineers. An interdisciplinary approach that emphasizes the integration of materials science, processing, mechanics, durability, and design is outlined. Key areas of development are emphasized. A cooperative program structure between academe and industry to provide the appropriate educational tools for future engineers is critical to the success of the offshore industry. A successful approach being used in another field of composites is described. The need for such programs is essential to insure the rapid and successful transition of current and future composites technologies into the offshore and ocean-related industries.

Subject Headings: Composite materials | Offshore structures | Ocean engineering | Materials engineering | Engineering education | Industrial facilities | Structural engineering

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