Senior engineering student, LeighAnn Lockwood participated in an internship opportunity at RTI Forensics in Stevensville, Maryland, this spring. RTI Forensics is an engineering consulting group that focuses on failure investigation and safety management, serving the legal and insurance markets. LeighAnn, who studies mechanical and materials engineering at LUM, used her technical education and training to design and execute a semester-long failure analysis experiment.
The problem posed was the failure of spray-paint aerosol cans by misuse. First, LeighAnn was instructed to research this topic to find all pertinent information. Once in hand, she was challenged to discern what necessary information was missing in the current literature. Her next task was to devise and execute a test or series of tests that would enable her to acquire this information. She formulated a procedure for an impact test that simulated dropping a spray-paint aerosol can. She constructed an apparatus (pictured below) that would allow her to conduct the experiment, and the test was performed on 50 cans. Then, she analyzed the failed spray-paint aerosol cans to determine the origin and mechanism of failure. Lastly, she prepared a report, describing the process and examining the effects that the various circumstances had on the failure of each trial. LeighAnn (pictured above) will graduate this May and will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall to pursue a Master of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering.