Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Vikas Tomar

Committee Chair

Vikas Tomar

Committee Member 1

Thomas S. Siegmund

Committee Member 2

Wenbin Yu


This paper presents a composite conical structure used commonly in flight-qualification testing. This structure’s overall load-displacement behavioral response is characterized. Mixed-mode multidelamination in a layered composite specimen is considered in Abaqus/Explicit through both the Virtual Crack Closure Technique and Cohesive Elements. The Virtual Crack Closure Technique and Cohesive Elements are compared against experimental test results presented in literature. Further, a thorough comparison in which the effects of failure criteria type, through-thickness mesh density, and finite element type on the progressive failure response of this composite assembly is discussed. Lastly, Abaqus/Standard and Helius PFA are compared in order to gain confidence into which analytical model’s failure theories best predicts the different scales of failure, both local/microscale and global/macroscale.