Mechanics of Composite Materials, Second Edition
with PROMAL Software

Autar K Kaw, University of South Florida

PROMAL (Program for Micromechanical and
Macromechanical Analysis of Laminates) is an
interactive software tool used to complement (not
supplement) the senior level course -- Introduction
to Mechanics of Composite Materials. The
objectives are the following:

  1. First, once students are required and tested
    in conducting analysis of mechanics of
    composite materials, the software is then
    introduced to avoid repetition and tedious
  2. Second, allow students to carry their own
    parametric studies to see the effects of
    variables on the performance of composites.
  3. Third, give a tool to conduct "industrial" type
    design of structures made of composite

It is used to conduct parametric studies which are
shown both in tabular and graphical form. Many a
times students ask "what if" questions and the
instructor can now readily answer of those
questions now.

Since the present generation is more "hands on"
type, the class is held in a computer laboratory
once a week. This allows students to carry their
own numerical experiments. In the last month of
the class, the software is used heavily to do open-
ended design problems. The final examination is a
take-home real life design problem.

Several computational problems are solved using
the software. Most problems are open ended and
students come up with several answers. Simple
designs of pressure vessels and leaf springs do
not take more than ten minutes to work out with
the PROMAL program, which would otherwise take
several hours by using a calculator. The computer
program still maintains the student's need to think
about the various inputs to the program to get an
optimum design. At the end of the exercise,
students and Dr. Kaw discuss not only the various
design alternatives but also how students think
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