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Domes Day

Students posing for Domes Day

From left: Cole Franz, Marlena Alexander, Jack Fredrick, and Raymond Wysmierski

DomesDay is a geodesic dome design competition sponsored annually by ASM International. The event was established in 2014 and has a multifold purpose, including involving students in a materials design and selection competition along with familiarizing Materials Advantage students with a piece of ASM culture, the world’s largest open air geodesic dome that spans ASM International Headquarters in Ohio. Every year, the rules are modified to keep the competition interesting. In September of 2022, the University of Tennessee Chapter of Materials Advantage (an academic student organization supported by the professional societies ASM International, the American Ceramic Society, TMS, and the Association for Iron & Steel Technology) sent its first team to the DomesDay Competition at the International Materials Applications & Technology (IMAT) conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The UT student team consisted of Marlena Alexander, Cole Franz, Jack Fredrick, and Raymond Wysmierski and was advised by Jerry Egeland. The team created a design for the dome mold using the CAD software package Fusion 360. Once the mold was ready, several attempts were required for a successful casting of the A356 aluminum alloy. The as-cast dome was subsequently heat treated to promote precipitation hardening and anodized to create an aesthetic finish. A finite element analysis predicted the compressive force the dome could withstand when fabricated from A356 aluminum.

There were seven domes competing from university teams across the US and Mexico. Judging criteria included points for (1) design, assessed based upon student presentations and a Q&A session regarding the design and fabrication of the dome, and (2) structural integrity, assessed by the dome’s structural performance in compression testing. The UT team impressed the judges by demonstrating their knowledge, having the only metal casted dome, and proving that their dome was up to the task by resisting more than 2000 lbs of compressive force. The UT team, sponsored in part by the Center of Materials Processing, won two of the four awards (second place and the most impressive destruction). The students had an extraordinary experience, both participating in the conference and competing at DomesDay, and are already designing and casting a dome for the 2023 competition.