Dr. Erik Thostenson, Mechanical Engineering, and his team of researchers. (Gerard Gallo-jeans/green hoodie, Gaurav Pardey-brown sweater, Zach Melrose-blue shirt, Christine Gree-gray UD hoodie, An Qi-lots of colors, Cedric Jacob-black sweater, Matt Sinnott-green)

Erik Thostenson’s fascination with composite materials grew out of his love for downhill skiing. “I was intrigued that the performance characteristics of various skis could be remarkably different, yet the skis themselves could look identical,” he says. “The same basic materials — graphite, carbon, and Kevlar — are used in most high-tech skis, but advanced composite technology enables mogul skis to be flexible while racing skis are stiff.”

Two decades later, Thostenson is still fascinated with these high-tech materials and their almost limitless potential to be tailored for applications far beyond high-performance skis. 

Now a professor affiliated with UD’s Center for Composite Materials, he recently received a prestigious five-year, $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate a new processing approach for novel multi-scale hybrid composites with functionally graded material properties. (read more)