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Unit information: Composite Structures: Design, Build & Test in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Composite Structures: Design, Build & Test
Unit code AENGM0050
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Longana
Open unit status Not open
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Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


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School/department Department of Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Unit Information

This unit allows for students to develop and implement a range of skills relevant to the design, manufacturing, and testing of composite structures. In this unit students will work in teams to design, build, and test a composite structure to a given specification. The students will need to apply the principles of composite mechanics to design a composite structure capable of meeting the specification.

Careful consideration must be given to the manufacturing methods to be employed to balance the competing requirements of low cost, short lead time and high desired part quality. The student teams will oversee all aspects of the manufacturing of these structures, including tooling, ply cutting, layup, cure, and any finishing work required. The students will then test their structures to failure under specified loading conditions, and the results will be compared to their analysis predictions.

The unit will be structured around a team-based design/build/test exercise, with the student teams working to deliver a manufactured prototype composite structure within a strict program time line.

Initial lectures will introduce the design specification, support the conceptual design phase, and provide guidance as to appropriate analysis methods and ways of working. The students will be responsible for planning their own group meetings, design development, and manufacturing. Academics with expertise in all relevant areas of the project will be available for consultation.

The aims of this unit are to:

  1. understand and apply principles of composite mechanics
  2. design composite structure for given specification
  3. evaluate and select appropriate composite manufacturing methods for a given application
  4. develop hands-on experience in the manufacture of composite structures
  5. experimentally characterise structure stiffness and strength properties
  6. work as a team to complete a complex task in a short period of time

Your learning on this unit

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Summarise the design process and identify key design requirements, drivers and constraints
  2. Demonstrate the use of analysis methods and interpret predictions of the stiffness and strength of a composite structure
  3. Compare composite manufacturing methods, and demonstrate an understanding of the competing aspects of time, cost, and resulting part quality that underpin this decision
  4. Put into practise knowledge of manufacturing procedures
  5. Develop experimental testing skills and demonstrate the ability to interpret results
  6. Develop soft skills for multi-disciplinary team work, including work load sharing, decision making, project and time management, and risk mitigation

How you will learn

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, which may include lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises.

How you will be assessed

The progress of the students against the stated aims will be assessed in two ways:

  1. A Preliminary Design Review (PDR) presentation (25%) will be held where the students will present as a group their analysis, designs, and proposed manufacturing methods for assessment and feedback from a panel of academics. This assessment is linked to Intended Learning Outcomes 1-3.
  2. A final group report (75%) will be submitted at the end of the unit which covers all stages of the project, presenting the work done and results achieved, along with discussion of the main challenges faced and lessons learned and self-assessment of the group's ways of working. This report will allow for assessment of all six of the Intended Learning Outcomes.

A peer marking scheme will be used for both assessments, to identify the individual contributions of team members. The standard peer marking scheme used in the faculty of engineering will be used to identify the individual contributions of team members.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. AENGM0050).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.