Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Faysal Kolkailah


This study investigated the effect of sensor mass, sensor location, and delamination location of different composite structures under dynamic loading. The study pertains to research of the use of accelerometers and dynamic response as a cost-effective and reliable method of structural health monitoring in composite structures. The composite structures in this research included carbon fiber plates, carbon fiber-foam sandwich panels, and carbon-fiber honeycomb sandwich panels. The composite structures were manufactured with the use of a Tetrahedron MTP-8 heat press. All work was conducted in the Cal Poly Aerospace Structures/Composites Laboratory. Initial delaminations were placed at several locations along the specimen, including the bending mode node line locations. The free vibration of the composite structure was forced through a harmonic horizontal vibration test using an Unholtz-Dickie shake system. A sinusoidal sweep input was considered for the test. The dynamic response of the composite test specimens were measured using piezoelectric accelerometers. Measurements were taken along horizontal and vertical locations on the surfaces of the composite structures. Square inch grids were marked on the surfaces to create a meshed grid system. Accelerometer measurements were taken at the center of the grids. The VIP Sensors 1011A piezoelectric accelerometer was used to measure vibration response. The measurements were then compared to response measurements taken from a PCB Piezotronics 353B04 single access accelerometer to determine the effects of sensor mass. Deviations in bending mode natural frequency and differences in mode shape amplitude became the criteria for evaluating the effect of sensor mass, sensor location, and delamination location. Changes in damping of the time response were also studied. The experimental results were compared to numerical models created using a finite element method. The experimental results and numerical values were shown to be in good agreement. The sensor mass greatly affected the accuracy and precision of vibration response measurements in the composites structures. The smaller weight and area of the VIP accelerometer helped to minimize the decrease in accuracy and precision due to sensor mass. The effect of sensor location was found to be coupled with the effect of sensor mass and the bending mode shape. The sensor location did not affect the vibration response measurements when the sensor mass was minimized. Off-center horizontal sensor placement showed the possibility of measuring vibration torsion modes. The effect of delamination changed the bending mode shape of the composite structure, which corresponded to a change in natural frequency. The greatest effect of the delamination was seen at the bending mode node lines, where the bending mode shape was most significantly affected. The effect of delamination was also dependent on the location of the delamination and the composite structure type. The results of this study provided considerations for future research of an active structural health monitoring system of composite structures using dynamic response measurements. The considerations included sensor mass reduction, sensor placement at constraints and bond areas and the presence of damping material.