Gangbing Song, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, recently presented his state-of-the-art smart materials research and their applications at the 18th Annual Mechanical Engineering Conference at the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico last month. During the three-day conference, Song joined the ranks of companies like Lamborghini and Airbus, and government organizations like NASA to give a presentation on smart materials and their applications.
According to Song, smart materials refer to materials that are responsive—a conversion of one form of energy into another in useful quantities. Song offered examples of equipment like a bio-mimicking hand and nitinol actuated robotic insect (NARI).
Song received the biggest response from a commonly used smart material known as shape memory alloys. Relatively novel metal materials, smart memory alloys have the ability to return to a predetermined shape when heated. Song depicted this phenomenon by including a video in his presentation of a self-healing concrete beam. In the short film, a substantial crack in the concrete beam with super elastic cables is closes itself.
Song said that while it was an honor to present alongside worthy contemporaries, the most gratifying point was representing the college.
“There were almost 1800 undergraduate students at the conference, so I was able to promote the college and our graduate school program. I talked about the research we conduct in an effort to interest students in our programs,” Song said. “It was an honor to present, but it was also a recruiting event and an opportunity to talk about what we do here.”