Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Committee Chair

Andres Arrieta

Committee Member 1

William Crossley

Committee Member 2

Tyler Tallman


The field of morphing wings presents significant potential for increasing the efficiency of aircraft. Conventional designs used in the industry limit the adaptability of aerodynamic surfaces to address an engineering trade-off between load-carrying and compliance. This same trade-off remains a factor in morphing wings, which must also balance weight considerations while attempting to remain competitive with conventional designs. The current state-of-the-art in morphing wings is briefly described in this work. This is followed by an investigation into a new application of the principle of selective stiffness, by which local changes in stiffness may be applied to affect the global structural characteristics. In this manner, this trade-off is addressed by providing the ability to allow a deformation mode when undergoing shape change and restrict it when sustained load-carrying is required.

This principle has previously been explored using pre-stressed composite laminates to produce a bi-stable structure with unique curvature in each stable state. Geometrically bi-stable structures are explored for the same purpose in this research. Three types of bi-stable element are explored and presented. The last of these is then embedded in a simple airfoil concept. The placement and geometry of this element are optimized, and a physical model is produced using additive manufacturing. This physical model is finally mechanically tested to assess the stiffness in each stable state of the embedded element.