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Associate Dean Receives Award for Nondestructive Testing of Composites

22 April 2005

Ed Henneke from the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, USA, received an award for developing a new technique for evaluating damage in composites.

The award, established to recognize highly distinguished individual achievements in research in nondestructive testing, was presented to Ed Hennele - associate dean for research - at the American Society for Nondestructive Testing's 14th Annual Research Symposium in Albuquerque New Mexico.

Henneke, a member of the Virginia Tech faculty for 33 years, received the award for developing a new technique for nondestructive evaluation of damage in advanced composite materials, a technique later named as vibrothermography. p>The technique is performed by applying low amplitude, high frequency mechanical vibrations (in the range of 15,000 – 30,000 cycles per second, just beyond normal human hearing) to composite materials and then using thermography to map temperature patterns that develop on the surface of the examined material. Thermography is the mapping of isothermal contour lines (points of equal temperature) on the surface of the material.

Henneke's research group found that hot spots developed on the surface of the material above regions of damage inside the material at specific frequencies. These hot spots became hot at mechanical frequencies that could be related to the size of the damage area inside the material using a mathematical/physical model developed by the research group. The internal damage was not detectable by the human eye. Detection and analysis of such damage is important in the understanding of the ability of the material object to carry loads and not to fail catastrophically. Catastrophic failure can be responsible for economic loss or the loss of human lives.

The vibrothermography technique was developed at Virginia Tech in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) in cooperation with Henneke's graduate students: Thomas S. Jones (MS, 1977), Samuel S. Russell (PhD, 1982), Shiang-Shin Lin (PhD, 1987) and Lazarus Tanek (MS, 1991). Henneke's students have since gone on to other successful ventures. Jones is presently working with Howmet Castings Corporation in nondestructive testing. Russell works for the NASA Huntsville Center applying nondestructive testing to problems of interest to NASA. Lin has returned to Taiwan and Tanek is presently a practicing civil engineer in Greece.

Henneke has maintained a strong interest throughout his career in nondestructive testing, publishing some 11 books (or chapters in books), 74 refereed technical papers in journals and periodicals, 91 technical reports and 157 technical lectures in both the US and Europe.