Advanced Aerospace Structures

Lightweight structures are essential for modern aircraft and spacecraft that are efficient and effective. Adding additional functionality to lightweight structures and materials enables even greater improvements in aerospace performance. This group, led by Professor Craig Steeves, conducts research in the area of efficient, lightweight aerospace structures. A particular focus is the combination of materials and geometry in novel structures that are not only light, stiff and strong, but that also have additional properties that can be tailored to a specific application. For example, by modifying the local fibre direction in a composite material, the vibrational characteristics of a composite structure can be controlled. A substantial portion of the group's research involves finding methods to change structural properties and use these to design optimal structural systems.

Key materials of interest include composite structures and nanocrystalline metals. In both cases, advanced manufacturing methods enable the combination of high performance materials with geometrically complex architecture to achieve functional goals which are otherwise unobtainable. Examples are the hybridization of complex polymer microtrusses with nanocrystalline metal coatings to fabricate complex near-net-shape structures with exceptionally high performance materials; and design of a truss-core composite sandwich to improve acoustic transmission performance. A shared theme of this research is the search for methods to optimize structures with high material and geometric complexity. In general, highly complex structures are difficult to design because of the large number of variables a designer must select. Computational methods, particularly topology optimization, are a primary focus of the research in this group.

A key motivation is reducing the mass of aircraft: this leads directly to reduced fuel consumption and better environmental performance. Improving the environmental sustainability of aviation is a key strategic goal of the the group's research, and of other UTIAS researchers. Thus, UTIAS hosts the Centre for Research in Sustainable Aviation (CRSA). In addition, many UTIAS graduate students participate in an NSERC CREATE program in Sustainable Aviation which provides student stipendiary support as well as internships in industry, professional skills training and additional technical training related to sustainable aviation. At the conclusion of their graduate research, students receive a Certificate of Emphasis in Sustainable Aviation. Similarly, our group collaborates with a number of local companies involved in the unmanned aerial vehicle segment of the aerospace industry through the Centre for Aerial Robotics Research and Education. Prospective students interested in CRSA or CARRE should contact Prof Steeves and indicate their interest in their Statements of Intent in the online application form.

Further information on the research projects as well as a complete directory of the group's members is available on the following pages. A list of the most recent publications and links to our collaborators are online for your convenience. We are always looking for talented, enthusiastic graduate students wishing to work in these areas. Research projects which may have open positions for graduate students are listed here. There will be several openings for graduate students in 2017; see the research page for more information.

University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
4925 Dufferin St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5T6
Phone: 416-667-7710 Fax: 416-667-7799
csteeves@utias.utoronto.ca