Release Date: February 4, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Robert C. Wetherhold, PhD, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Fellowship, which is the highest elected grade of membership in ASME, is conferred upon members with at least 10 years of active engineering practice who have made significant contributions to the profession.
ASME awarded the fellowship to Wetherhold for his achievements in the field of the mechanics of heterogeneous materials, from fabrication through end use, with particular specialties in fracture behavior, laminate design, smart/multifunctional materials and composites, and surface modification.
His research has been geared toward addressing general durability problems, such as the progressive failure of composite laminates, thermal cycling and thermal exposure and at determining how their constituents influence the toughness and behavior of fractures.
He has worked on solving design problems by exploiting the unique symmetry properties of composites and their useful behavior in laminated structures. He has been involved in the design and fabrication of unique orthotropic composite actuators that can control the bending and twisting vibration of plates or beams in flexible structures in a variety of applications, such as space and aircraft structures.
Wetherhold also has studied the role that surface-active agents can play in order to control the deposition of solids onto surfaces that are being chemically treated to improve toughness and durability.
Recently, he has been involved in an effort to produce a group of "swarming" micro-aircraft for information gathering, where the challenge is extending mission time and improving aerodynamic performance for such aircraft through the use of very flexible composite wing structures.
His work has been funded by federal agencies, including NASA-Lewis, the U.S. Air Force Materials Lab and the U.S. Army Research Office.
As a Fulbright Fellow, he spent a year at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany, doing research on the fracture of particle-reinforced thermoplastics.
Wetherhold, who also serves as director of undergraduate studies for the UB Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been faculty advisor with the UB Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) student chapter. He is a recipient of the Ralph R. Teetor Engineering Educator Award and the Faculty Advisor Award from SAE.
Wetherhold has been a visiting scientist in engineering ceramics at Rockwell International Science Center, an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Summer Faculty Fellow, and a visiting scientist at the Air Force Materials Laboratory and the American Society for Engineering Education NASA Summer Faculty Fellow.
He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honorary society, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Xi.
A UB faculty member since 1983, Wetherhold earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in engineering and applied sciences at the University of Delaware.
He lives in Amherst, N.Y.