School of Civil Engineering

Mentor: Joe Gattas

Team Members: Casey Schackow, Moin Rahman, Tierney George, Lee McCann, Jonathan Tan, Fei Zhou, Rui Shi, Sophie Weir

Project Brief

Origami engineering is a rapidly growing research field that involves the adaption of geometric sheet patterns to invent and improve folded structures and devices. By utilising folded patterns, origami engineers can transform many sheet materials into efficient and easily-manufactured applications, with current applications already seen in deployable and modular housing; energy-absorbing packaging and barriers; and lightweight automobile and aircraft components. The UQ Folded Structures Lab (UQ_FSL) has numerous research projects investigating structural and architectural applications of folded geometries. Icarus students are invited to join UQ_FSL graduate and fourth year thesis students to work on projects related to:

  • Hybrid fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) timber structural sections;
  • Digital fabrication of thin-walled sections; and
  • Parametric analysis and manufacture.

Activities will include prototype manufacture, experimental testing, weekly group meetings, and geometric, numerical, and theoretical analyses.  

Project Completion Report

Moin, Casey, and Jon assisted fourth year thesis students Ben Hansen and Bede O'Rourke will investigation of FRP-timber hollow sections. They first built several glass-fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) only prototypes and then an extended set of GFRP-timber hollow sections with novel cross-sectional geometries. They then assisted with instrumentation and testing of hollow section prototypes under uniaxial compression loads. Jonathan investigated an FRP-timber spindle beam, which is a thin-walled beam with a novel non-uniform cross-section parameterised by curved-crease geometry. The spindle beam is hypothesised to have increased structural performance in comparison to an ordinary rectangular hollow section due to the increased stiffness from the geometry. Jonathan's work used numerical methods in MATLAB to obtain estimates for the spindle section stiffness and strength properties.   

Rui and Fei worked with fourth year thesis student Harry Pagliaro to investigate digitally-fabricated thin-walled sections. The used MATLAB to create several parametrically-defined sections with integral mechanical attachments and friction-only (i.e. adhesion-less) connections between parts. Using computer-numerically controlled (CNC) cutters they were then able to verify their software by produced MDF, acrylic, and plywood thin-walled structural section prototypes. Rui and Fei additionally used the software to produce teaching aids for first and second year structural engineering courses. 


Lee, Sophie, and Tierney started a project to parametrically design and manufacture a sandwich structure based with a grid shell core based on principal stress line distributions.  This task was approached using software well established in the architectural industry (Rhinoceros with the Grasshopper/Karamba plug-ins to visualise principal stress lines within a parametric design) so as to facilitate future Civil/Architectural cross over projects. The starting design was a simple rectangular part whose dimensions were controlled by parametric inputs for side lengths and thickness.  This was assigned a triangular mesh, support, loads, and material properties as per normal finite element (FE) analysis.  The built-in FE solver was then used and the results manipulated using Karamba3D tools to transform into principal stress lines. Accuracy issues arose from the use of a triangular mesh instead of a quad mesh, which could not be changed due to the in-built tools.  This made the whole model unreliable to attain a functional principal stress output for export. An alternate approach was then taken where a finite element plate solver was built in MATLAB. This enabled better control over the FE mesh and integration with existing MATLAB tools for digital fabrication.