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Keynote Speakers

Dr. Sean Black

Sean Black is Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer, Engineering and Technology, for Spirit AeroSystems. He is based in Wichita, Kansas and in this role, he has oversight of Spirit’s global engineering and research and development teams.

Black earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Dundee Institute of Technology (Scotland).  Thereafter, he completed a PhD thesis at Liverpool John Moores University (England) in the field of Superabrasives, sponsored by DeBeers Industrial Diamond Division.   Before commencing his industrial career, he held a Lectureship in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Dundee (Scotland).

Black has over 25 years’ experience in the defense/aerospace industry.  He started his career in the UK as a Researcher at BAE SYSTEMS Advanced Technology Centre and then transferred to the Aerostructures business unit.  He joined Airbus with the launch of the A350XWB program where he held a variety of leadership roles both in Europe and the United States spanning the full development lifecycle from “clean sheet” design to industrial ramp up.  

Black is a Charted Engineer (CEng), a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FIMechE), and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS).  

Prof. Conchúr Ó Brádaigh

Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh joined The University of Edinburgh in 2015 as Chair of Materials Engineering and became the Head of the School of Engineering in 2018.  He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute for Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). He is currently Vice-President of SAMPE Europe.

He is a leading expert in fibre-reinforced composite materials, with over 210 publication, including 77 papers in refereed journals.  He has supervised 12 PhD students and 18 M.Eng.Sc. students to completion. 

His contract research awards amount to more than £20.7 million, with funding received from the EPSRC, Wave Energy Scotland, National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland, Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union, European Space Agency, Enterprise Ireland, InterTrade Ireland, Sustainable Energy Ireland and international industries.

Conchúr was previously Professor of Energy Engineering at University College Cork, Ireland, where he was also Director of the Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) Research Centre from 2014 to 2015.  He lectured at the National University of Ireland, Galway from 1990 to 2014, during which time he was also a Co-Founder and Joint Managing Director of two Irish composite materials and manufacturing companies.

Prof. John P. Dear

Professor John Dear has been an academic for 34 years in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at Imperial College London. Prior to joining Imperial in 1988, John was an SERC Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University where he did his first degree and PhD research with Professor John E. Field OBE FRS. John did his undergraduate and PhD study at St John’s College, followed by the Hertha Ayrton Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge. John has been successful in obtaining research grants from the UK and US Government (EPSRC, ONR, MRC & DTI/TSB), European Commission, UK and overseas companies. His research expertise is structural integrity of materials including manufacturing and micro-structural effects. He is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Lightweight Materials and Manufacture. He has published over 400 journal and conference papers (5,000 citations, H-index: 36); contributed to 18 books, supervised 66 PhDs and 22 RAs. Examples include: impact performance of aerospace and automotive components, blast performance of laminated glass facades and composite structures, creep life of materials in power-station plant, water distribution plant and high-strain rate properties of polymers, composites and a wide range of other materials for defence applications and also for medical research.

Prof. Martine Dubé

Martine Dubé is professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at École de technologie supérieure in Montréal, Canada and co-director of the Research Center for High Performance Polymer and Composite Systems (CREPEC), a strategic cluster comprising 80 researchers from the polymer and composite fields in the province of Québec. She leads a research group focussed on the development of manufacturing and joining processes for thermoplastic composites for applications in the space, aerospace and other industries.  In 2021, she became the chairholder of the Marcelle Gauvreau Research Chair on Sustainable Composite Materials. The research chair activities include the development of recycling routes for thermoplastic composites production wastes. Before her appointment as a professor in 2011, she worked at Bombardier Aerospace where she contributed to the development of repair methods for composite structures.  Her research has led to close to 100 journal and conference publications. Professor Dubé holds a Bachelor and a Master’s degree from Polytechnique Montréal and a PhD from McGill University. She also worked as a CNRS post-doctoral fellow for two years at Polytechnique in France.

Professor Genevieve Langdon

Genevieve Langdon is a Professor of Blast and Impact Engineering at the University of Sheffield. She is trained as a mechanical engineer, completing her undergraduate and doctoral studies at the University of Liverpool. She is a chartered engineer, member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, the British Society for Strain Measurement and serves as secretary of the International Society of Impact Engineering. She gained first-hand experience in explosion testing after spending fifteen years working in Cape Town, and is currently an Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include the survivability of lightweight structures and materials to blast loading, blast injury, and the transient response of structures subjected to explosion loading and IEDs. Her research has led to over 100 Scopus-indexed publications (>3000 citations, h-index = 35) from blast, materials and structures related projects performed in collaboration with industry and academic partners from around the globe

Prof. Endel V. Iarve

Career research is focused on understanding and computational modeling of deformation and failure mechanisms of current and emerging composite materials. In the 80-90’s Iarve was one of the pioneers of application of B-spline approximation to stress analysis in laminated composites including dynamic problems and impact loading. Research areas included refined plate and shell theories, biomimetics, composite repair, composite bolted joints, chopped fiber composites and textile composites. Present research interests are in the area of Integrated Computational Materials Science and Engineering bringing together manufacturing and performance aspects of advanced composite materials. Recent developments include Regularized Extended Finite Element Method (Rx-FEM) for discrete damage modeling in laminated and other types of advanced composite materials under broad range of loading conditions including compression and fatigue. His research was funded by Air Force, NASA and other government adjacencies and industry. He is a member of AIAA; the American Society for Composites and ASME where he served on the Joining and Fastening Committee including Chair position.

Prof. Conor McCarthy

Professor Conor McCarthy is Chair of Lightweight Structures at the University of Limerick in the Republic of Ireland, where he leads a research group focussed on developing digital twins for advanced joining processes, such as autonomous robotic drilling and ultrasonic welding of high-performance composite materials and structures. A key driver of this research is to optimise advanced lightweight structures by developing and deploying novel multi-material joining technologies. Some examples of this research work include the development of joints for advanced composite fuselage and wing skin-stinger and -frame bolted joints, and novel interlocked hybrid composite–metal joints. This research work has led to over 100 Scopus-Indexed high impact publications (>4,050 citations, H-index: 43) and a US patent on a new smart glue that can be “unzipped” using only high-frequency radio waves for applications in product disassembly and circularity. Professor McCarthy has graduated 15 PhD students and mentored 25 postdoctoral researchers, including 16 Marie-Sklodowska Curie fellows. He has also been the principal investigator on successful research projects worth over €100M. He serves on the Board of a leading composites Journal Composite Structures, and was the founding director of the Confirm – Smart Manufacturing Research Centre.

Professor Gangadhara Prusty

Professor Prusty specialises in the field of nano, micro and macro-mechanics of composites. His interdisciplinary approach to composites research, extends from mechanics of materials through to the implementation of automated manufacturing technologies to complete composite structures/components and biomechanics applications. He is the Centre Director of ARC Training Centre for Automated Manufacture of Advanced Composites (AMAC). His glittering 25+ years career has firmly established him as a pre-eminent founder, inventor, researcher and teacher.

Professor Prusty is the Bid Leader and Director of Research for the Sovereign Manufacturing Automation of Composites Cooperative Research Centre (SoMAC CRC), bringing together 33 partnering organisations in a A$250 million research program over 10 years (2022-2032). His multi-disciplined ability has seen him secure over 100 research grants, author over 300 referred articles, graduate 30 Higher Degree Researchers, obtain multiple patents and invention disclosures.

Markus Quadt

Markus Quadt is working at ArianeGroup in Bremen on future upper stage concepts for orbital class launch vehicles in frame of the ArianeGroup’s Technical Directorate. Being an expert for module architecture and a specialist for composite technologies, he is currently working on the pre-development and technology maturation for upcoming upper stages providing performance and cost improvements by the implementation of a full composite architecture. With the start of the development of the new European launch vehicle ARIANE 6 in 2015, Markus Quadt was contributing to the development of the A6 Upper Liquid Propulsion Module (ULPM) in several roles, finally working as project manager for the complete module. In 2018, he took the opportunity to move to ArianeGroup’s German future projects department putting the focus on the next-generation A6 composite upper stage called ICARUS (Innovative Composite Ariane Upper Stage). This activity is making the link between the professional experience on launcher development and 10 years of professional experience on composite structures and technologies in the TOYOTA Formula 1 motorsport team. The maturation of composite technologies is conducted within projects in frame of ArianeGroup’s trans-national R&T network, ESA’s Future Launcher Preparatory Program (FLPP) and AIRBUS ZEROe programme.

Prof. Tong-Earn Tay

Professor T.E. Tay is full Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS). He leads a research group focussed on modeling of progressive damage, failure, delamination, impact of composites. Professor Tay was formerly Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering (2011-2015) and Vice-Dean for Research for Faculty of Engineering (2009-2011). He is an associate editor for the Journal of Reinforced Plastics & Composites, editorial board member of the Journal of Composite Materials, International Journal of Damage Mechanics, Applied Composite Materials, Multiscale and Multidisciplinary Modeling Experiment and Design, and Journal of Multiscale Modeling. He is a registered Professional Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Founding Fellow of the Singapore Academy of Engineering (FSAE) and Council Member of the Asian-Australasian Association for Composite Material. His research has led to 236 Scopus-Indexed publications (>5,500 citations, H-index: 39). Professor Tay has graduated 19 PhD students and mentored 21 postdoctoral researchers. He has also been the principal investigator of research grants from Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR), Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), Economic Development Board (EDB), Ministry of Education, Marine & Port Authority (MPA), US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and direct industry funding (Maruhachi, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Vestas, Haliburton, DSM, etc.).

Dr. Tia Benson Tolle, Ph.D.

Dr. Tia Benson Tolle serves as Senior Director of Technology and Sustainability for Product Development (PD), Boeing Commercial Airplanes.  In this role she leads the team responsible for developing and executing sustainability roadmaps and technologies for future production systems, products and services. She also serves as the technology investment portfolio advisor for PD. Prior to this role, she led Materials and Fabrication team for Product Strategy & Future Airplane Development team, during which she led efforts for implementation of improved materials on the 777X, insertion of additive manufactured materials on the 787, and the piloting of carbon fiber composite recycling.

Dr. Benson Tolle joined Boeing in 2012.  She began her aerospace career at NASA and later through progressively more responsible leadership positions in the Air Force Research Laboratory.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington, and Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy degrees in Materials Science and Engineering both from the University of Dayton, and is currently in the 2023 cohort of Villanova University’s Sustainable Enterprise Executive Education & Development (SEED). She also earned an Emerging Leader Certificate from the University of Dayton.  Dr. Benson Tolle was named a Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE), is an International Past President of SAMPE, and served as President of the Materials Research Society (2014).

Prof. Reza Vaziri

Dr. Vaziri is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Scientific Director of the Composites Research Network at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Vaziri obtained his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from University College London, and his Ph.D. from UBC specializing in mechanics of composite structures.  Dr. Vaziri’s contribution to engineering research has been the development of computational modelling techniques to solve a variety of problems in materials and structures and the transferring of the technology to the user community (e.g. industries, government research agencies, and private companies). His research has been focused on the development of analytical and numerical modelling techniques to simulate the manufacturing process of composite structures as well as their fracture and damage behaviour under high intensity impact and crash loadings. Dr. Vaziri’s research has attracted numerous research grants and contracts over the years from various government and industrial sources (e.g. aerospace, automotive and defence) both in Canada and in the US. The body of research has led to the training of several graduate students with over 20 doctoral students graduated. Dr. Vaziri serves on the technical advisory board of several international scientific and engineering organizations, including the International Journal of Impact Engineering.

Prof Paul M Weaver

Paul Weaver has held the position of Bernal Chair of Composite Materials and their Structures at the University of Limerick since 2016 and has been Professor of Lightweight Structures at the University of Bristol since 2009, having been at Bristol for 25 years. Paul’s expertise lies in developing new design concepts and methods with lightweight composite structures. He has led partnerships with Vestas Wind Systems and ORE Catapult on wind turbine blades and has been a consultant to NASA for 12 years, and a principal or co-principal investigator of grants totalling >50MEuro. Currently, he holds a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professorship (€6.4M) entitled Varicomp which brings together his interests in both shape changing and lightweight composite structures. He currently holds a Royal Society Wolfson Merit award and was previously an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow. He has been Director for the Centre of Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites since 2008 where he has overseen the graduation of more than 100 PhD students. His research team have won nine best paper awards in recent years and Paul has successfully supervised 43 PhD students to completion and has published in excess of 500 refereed journal and conference articles.

Regius Prof. Philip J Withers

Philip Withers is the first Regius Professor of Materials at the University of Manchester and Chief Scientist of the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials. He is a fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and a Foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Indian National Science Academy. He is Chief Scientist of the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials.  His PhD at Cambridge was on Metal Matrix Composites about which he co-authored a book with Professor Bill Clyne.  He has pioneered the use of X-ray CT and electron microscopy to undertake correlative multiscale, multimodal and time-lapse characterisation to follow the behaviour of engineering materials often in 3D and exposed to demanding environments in operando. In 2008 he set up the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility, one of the most extensive suites of X-ray Imaging facilities in the world with a special focus on in situ time lapse 3D X-ray imaging. It is now part of the UK National Research Facility for Lab. X-ray CT.  In 2014, the Facility was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.  A large focus of his imaging work has been to characterise the architecture of polymer matrix composites and to use time-lapse (4D) imaging to study the nucleation and propagation of damage on polymer, ceramic and metallic matrix composites.

Prof. Yingdan Zhu

Professor Yingdan Zhu is the Vice Director of Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Technology in Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Professor Zhu leads a research team focussed on the manufacturing of fibre reinforced composites and their automatic processing equipment, including polymer chemistry, composite design and simulation, processing, manufacturing equipment, joining, testing and evaluation. Their work has been granted a wide range of competitive research funding from national government, CAS, international cooperation and industrial partners. They also have wide application research experiences and built strong industrial links for exploitation and technology transfer. Professor Zhu has authored and coauthored more than 150 peer-reviewed papers and invited conference papers. She also has registered 57 patents and held 70 authorized ones. Since 2010, she has cultivated over 20 master and 10 PhD students, and mentored 8 postdoctoral researchers. She has also been the principal investigator on many successful research proposals worth over CNY 80 million from Ministry of Science and Technology, National Natural Science Foundation, CAS, and direct industry funding in China. She is a member of Chinese Society for Composite Materials and SAMPE China.









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