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Congratulations to Jeremy Stephen for defending his thesis titled ‘Contact Mechanics of Fish Scale Inspired Exoskeletal Components on a Nonlinear Elastic Substrate’ . In this work Jeremy investigated the the response of a substrate with stiff scales protruding from its surface, which is comprised of a soft elastomeric material with properties typical of those in soft robotics applications. It is found that the exoskeletal components amplify the nonlinearly of the system by artificially increasing the effective Hertzian contact area, which alters the contact stiffness and breaks the symmetry of the load across the surface. These effects are quantified using a combination of numerical modeling, finite element (FE) computation and experimental 3D Digital Image Correlation (DIC). While previous works have focused on biological fish scales, fully embedded scale composites and perforation studies, this study investigates and develops a numerical model to quantify the contact behavior of nonlinear elastic substates with exoskeletal scale structures.

Jeremy has hosted his Master thesis online due to COVID-19 pandemic. His thesis is now available online through the UCF STARS under UCF library and can be found here.