SAMPE 2022
Featured Speakers

Distinguished professionals enhancing industry education.

Each conference category includes a variety of programs that inform and educate materials and processes professionals, including engineers, product managers, technicians, sales and marketing personnel.

Informing and educating the advanced materials and process engineering community.


Awards Breakfast Speaker: Amy Ross

Space Suit Engineer, NASA

Making a Space Suit: Not as easy as it looks

Thursday, May 26 | 8:00 am - 9:30 am

Amy Ross will discuss the different principles involved in the highly integrated effort of designing and testing a planetary walking suit.

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Monica Rommel

CEO, Specialty Materials

Monica Rommel has been on the end-user side of the composites industry with over 35 years of experience at two aerospace primes. She decided to invest her retirement savings into the acquisition of Specialty Materials. As owner and CEO, Monica is revitalizing and transforming a 50-year-old business into SMI 2.0. To that point, SMI won the Small Business Administration’s 2020 Subcontractor of the Year award and was awarded a 2021 $2.3M Massachusetts’s Manufacturing Innovation Initiative Grant to expand capacity and upgrade production equipment.

Prior to acquiring SMI, Ms. Rommel was a senior scientist with L3Harris. In this capacity she ideated, developed, and executed technology development programs aimed at improving the performance of electro-optical imaging systems and radio frequency antennas. She supported critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance programs by leading advanced materials development programs. Ms. Rommel was a founding member of a government sponsored Nanotechnology materials consortium and led a customer sponsored research and development program for over 10 years on nano-materials. She supported vital supply chain initiatives with the Space Industrial Base Working group to ensure the stable supply of high modulus fibers into the United States Satellite Industry. Ms. Rommel worked at Northrop Grumman from 1987 and 1999 developing affordable composites for fighter aircraft and characterizing the corrosion resistance of advanced aluminum alloys.

Boron Fiber: The OG of Aerospace Composites
Tuesday, May 24 | 2:00 pm 

There is no doubt that the composites industry would not be what it is today without carbon fiber products. But this does not change the reality that boron fiber got the industry started. This is why it is important to understand why boron fiber is still relevant today. There is only one boron fiber manufacturer in the world, and it is a woman owned small business called Specialty Materials (SMI) located in Lowell Massachusetts.

Did you know that F-15 tail components are made of boron/epoxy skins bonded to aluminum honeycomb core or that boron fiber helped transform a drone that transformed military combat? Boron based composites have a long military, aerospace, and even sporting goods history over the last 50+ years!

Boron fiber is made by Chemical Vapor Deposition and has the highest compression strength of any high-performance reinforcement. Boron fiber also has a high elastic modulus and a positive coefficient of thermal expansion. It can be combined with carbon fiber to provide synergistic benefits which include balancing tensile and compressive properties and creating zero coefficient of thermal expansion products. That said Boron fiber does have its drawbacks. It is difficult to cut and lay-up by hand. SMI has initiatives around eliminating these drawbacks and reducing the cost of the boron fiber.

Sarah (Ollila) Kleinbaum

Program Manager - Materials Technology

Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office

Sarah Ollila is the Program Manager for Materials Technology in the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. She manages a team that is decarbonizing the Transportation sector by funding research on lightweight and high-performance materials for electric vehicles. Sarah has been with DOE for 7 years, managing the research portfolio on the joining of dissimilar materials in her previous role. Prior to DOE, Sarah worked at Whirlpool Corp and managed the materials analysis and approval laboratories for North America. Sarah has a background in Materials Engineering and received her degree from Purdue University.

Materials Challenges and Opportunities in Decarbonizing the Transportation Sector Date
Wednesday, May 25 | 10:00 am 

The Department of Energy has a goal of achieving 100 percent decarbonization of the transportation sector by 2050. This ambitious goal will be realized through the increased deployment of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Materials play an important role in increasing the efficiency of electric vehicles through weight reduction as well as significantly reducing the cost, weight, volume, and charge time of PEV batteries. Lighter weight vehicle structures and electric drivetrains will require fewer batteries to achieve the same range, which in turn reduces battery cost, material needs, and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from battery production. The materials and manufacturing methods used to make vehicles also contribute to greenhouse gases and research, development, and deployment to increase recyclability and reduce the overall embodied energy of vehicles is also needed. Early-stage research of new lithium-ion cathode, anode, and electrolyte materials (currently accounting for 50-70 percent of PEV battery cost) and the development of “beyond lithium-ion” technologies, such as lithium metal anodes, solid-state electrolytes, and sulfur-based cathodes has the potential to significantly reduce weight, volume, and cost - with a target of $60/kWh. Development of innovative battery materials recycling and reuse technologies assures sustainability and domestic supplies of key battery materials and minerals.

Dr. Shridhar Yarlagadda

Assistant Director for Research, Center for Composite Materials

University of Delaware

Dr. Shridhar Yarlagadda is the Assistant Director for Research at the University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials and holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State. Dr. Yarlagadda has been conducting research in materials, processing and manufacturing of composite materials and structures for over 25 years. He is a co-inventor of the highly-aligned discontinuous Fiber (TuFF) technology and PI/co-PI on several on-going funded efforts for continued development of TuFF. He also currently leads design, manufacturing and prototyping of complex composite structural assemblies for space suits. He has co-authored over 100 articles including journal and conference papers, and patents.

Highly-aligned Discontinuous Fiber Composites (TuFF): Progress and Challenges
Wednesday, May 25 | 3:45 pm

Under the DARPA TFF program, the University of Delaware - Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) led-team developed a manufacturing process and pilot facility to produce novel highly-aligned discontinuous carbon fiber composite feedstock for rapid manufacturing of small complex geometry parts. The TuFF (Tailored Universal Feedstock for Forming) feedstock consists of a highly aligned discontinuous carbon fiber preform in thin-ply format, which can be combined with thermoplastic or thermoset resins for prepreg, or used in dry form for infusion-based manufacturing processes. Using discontinuous IM7 carbon fiber and Polyetherimide (PEI) thermoplastic resin, TuFF composites with aerospace quality requirements (<1% voids, up to 60% fiber volume fraction) have demonstrated 100% translation of fiber stiffness and strength in tension, and >40% bi-axial in-plane strain capability during forming. Continued development of TuFF feedstock is on-going with funded efforts through DoD and NASA, and this talk will provide a progress update on both thermoset and thermoplastic TuFF feedstock development, summary of key accomplishments to date, and some of the key technical challenges that need to be addressed.

Melilli, John


Composite Automation, LLC

John Melilli is the President and CEO of Composite Automation, LLC.  Composite Automation is a Manufacturer's Representative that represents about 10 companies that manufacture machines and or software for composites manufacturing from the US and Europe.  John has a BSBA from The College of NJ and has been in the field of applying industrial automation equipment since 1985.  He began his career in composites in 2004 and started Composite Automation in 2016 after seeing a need for a company that would help SME companies with innovative technologies market their companies to the composites marketplace.  The company covers all North America and has experienced explosive growth despite the COVID 19 crisis.

Automation in Composites Manufacturing: Reduced Costs, Higher Yields and Consistent Quality
Wednesday, May 25 | 2:00 pm

John's talk will be centered on where composites manufacturing has been and its progression over the past few years with a focus on new automation technologies.