NASA Names Computer to Honor TU Professor

Friday, January 17, 2003


NASA has named a computer in honor of Edmund F. Rybicki, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at The University of Tulsa, citing him for his "contributions to the field of fracture mechanics."

The NASA computer, named RYBICKI, is used at Langley Research Center in Virginia to help design spacecraft and in materials research.

Researchers use the computer to focus on the fracture and failure of metal and composite materials, which are made by bonding layers of carbon fibers with an epoxy glue. Such materials are used in products ranging from tennis rackets and golf clubs to civilian and military airplanes.

Before joining TU in 1979, Rybicki had studied the causes of failures of composite materials at Battelle Memorial Institute, the research facility in Columbus, Ohio, where he and a colleague developed a method of predicting failures. It is this method which NASA adopted, expanded on, and uses in its computer analysis software.

Rybicki, who is TU's F. W. Murphy Professor of Mechanical Engineering, says it is essential to know how much loading a material or structural component can withstand before it is incorporated into an airplane or any other product. He says users of this method report that his approach "has become the most popular used method in the world for this type of analysis."