Undergraduate Research Program

Patrick Follis

Patrick standing in front of a treeMajor: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Mentor: NASA Langley Research Center

Contact: pfollis@uw.edu

Current research project: Ultrasonic Cure Monitoring and Defect Detection in Composites


Patrick is a junior in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department of Engineering. He is interested in aircraft and spacecraft design. His research, done through a NASA internship at Langley Research Center, aims to make airplanes safer, more efficient, and more comfortable. This is achieved by monitoring composite materials during cure and identifying structural defects early on. Outside of research, Patrick enjoys bouldering, hiking, reading, and creating YouTube videos. He is happy to talk about his research experiences and how to get involved within UW or otherwise!

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Most composite materials are “created” during cure in an autoclave, which is similar to baking them in a high-pressure oven. During this process defects can form in the composite (such as air pockets) that compromise the strength and reliability of the material. Traditionally composite materials must be rigorously tested after cure. I researched a way to use ultrasonic waves to scan composites during cure, so defects could be detected more efficiently.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I started with an internship at NASA Kennedy Space Center in fall 2019, and using that stepping stone I got the research internship at NASA Langley in winter 2020. I wanted to get involved to boost my experience in the aerospace field and learn about the academic process of pursuing new information.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Be proactive and don’t be discouraged easily.