Public Release: 

NASA awards UTARI researcher $1 million to develop better models for rotor spar fatigue

Computational composites testing

University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington and the UTA Research Institute will develop state-of-the-art computational methodologies to predict the strength and life of rotor blade assemblies, known as rotor spars, through a new $1 million agreement.

Endel Iarve, an accomplished research scientist and expert in composite materials, will lead the three-year project called "Development of Fatigue Life Prediction of Rotor Spars by Using Discrete Damage Modeling."

Iarve joined UTA in 2015 as a strategic addition to the newly created Institute for Predictive Performance Methodologies, part of two-pronged strategy to increase research activity and to engage corporations in the process of translating discoveries into practical uses. The Institute is led by Kenneth Reifsnider, an internationally recognized expert in high temperature energy systems and composite materials and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

The NASA project is funded through the federal agency's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in alignment with the Advanced Composites Project, which focuses on providing safe and sustainable U.S. and global aviation. Researchers also are working to reduce the timeline for development and certification of state-of-the-art composite materials and structures, which will help make advanced composite components more competitive in commercial aircraft.

"Aerospace companies are constantly looking for ways to design and produce next generation aircraft more efficiently," Iarve said. "It is very exciting to contribute to this goal by developing computational methods capable of simulating material behavior and reducing the amount of testing."

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, said the NASA project is evidence of the University's increasing contribution to the aerospace industry.

"UTA is becoming a worldwide leader and a research partner with the aviation industry in establishing benchmarks that will have a permanent impact on computational aeronautic manufacturing," Hancock said.

The goal of the UTARI effort is to extend advanced computational techniques to a larger and more complicated part of an aircraft, improving life prediction in rotorcraft structures.

UTARI Executive Director Mickey McCabe said Iarve's research correlates with the University's commitment to data-driven discovery under the Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

"Iarve's research uses data-driven discovery to create valuable models that will predict the life of larger aerospace components," McCabe said. "It has strengthened an already strong Institute for Predictive Performance Methodologies and delivers a valuable tool needed by every aerospace manufacturer."

Iarve is a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Society for Composites. His research is focused on the understanding and computational modeling of deformation and failure mechanisms of current and emerging composite materials.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Iarve was one of the pioneers of application of B-spline approximation to stress analysis in laminated composites including dynamic problems and impact loading.

His research areas included refined plate and shell theories, biomimetics, composite repair, composite bolted joints, chopped fiber composites and textile composites. Recent 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 discrete damage modeling methodologies for laminated composites under broad range of loading conditions including compression and fatigue.


UTA Research Institute

The mission of The University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute is to bridge the gap between academic research and product development in the areas of product engineering, biomedical technologies and robotics. UTARI researchers collaborate with partners representing government, industry and higher education. UTARI serves as host of industry symposia, consortia and events that bring partners together to further research and development. Visit to learn more.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie "highest research activity" institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at

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