Doctoral student receives American Society for Composites scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rudy Haluza, a Penn State engineering science and mechanics doctoral candidate, was awarded a 2020-21 scholarship from the American Society for Composites (ASC). He was honored at the ASC 35th Annual Technical Conference, held virtually from Sept. 14-17.  

Rudy Haluza, an engineering science and mechanics doctoral student, received the 2020-21 ASC scholarship to investigate the crashworthiness of carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites. Credit: Rudy HaluzaAll Rights Reserved.

This scholarship is awarded to doctoral students in engineering or science whose dissertation research is focused on composite materials, which combine two materials with different properties for specialized applications that may not be possible with original materials alone. This award is only granted to four students or fewer each year. 

“I’m excited and honored to be recognized by such a respected organization,” Haluza said. “I’m looking forward to making more progress on my academic and professional goals with this scholarship.”

Haluza’s dissertation is focused on carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite crashworthiness, which is the material’s ability to protect vehicle occupants in a collision. CFRP composites are light yet extremely strong, a useful combination for applications in aircraft and vehicles where it is important to reduce weight of materials without sacrificing their capacity to withstand powerful forces. 

The research will explore CFRP crashworthiness through experimental and simulated approaches. In Haluza’s crash test experiments, he will use a crash sled with a movable boundary — unlike the rigid crash sled used in most crash tests — to more accurately represent a range of dynamic impact scenarios. For the computational portion of his work, Haluza will use a newly developed numerical model to simulate the response of CFRP structures to dynamic crushing scenarios. 

Haluza’s co-advisers are Kevin Koudela, associate research professor of engineering science and mechanics, and Charles Bakis, distinguished professor of engineering science and mechanics.

“Rudy has crafted an exciting dissertation topic on the crashworthiness of fiber-reinforced polymer composite materials,” Bakis said. “His dissertation will help to advance the state of the art in characterizing and modeling crushing behavior of vehicular composites, with an ultimate goal of improving passenger safety.”

Haluza is a member of the ASC as well as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was awarded the Eric A. Walker Graduate Assistantship by the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory in 2018. He is a previous recipient of the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics Joseph C. Conway, Jr., Memorial Award as well as the Penn State Student Leader Scholarship. Haluza is also active on the Engineering Graduate Student Council.

ASC was established in 1985 to advance the science and technology of composite materials and structures. This all-volunteer group of professionals in academia, industry, national laboratories and federal agencies aims to build relationships and facilitate the exchange of ideas between individuals with a mutual interest in composites.

Last Updated September 18, 2020