High School Student Rewarded For Work With Body Armor

Saturday, December 1st 2007, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

A Bartlesville High School junior is reaping rewards for improving the body armor of United States troops. Melissa Carvell was awarded an $8,000 scholarship from the U.S. Navy and $1,500 from the U.S. Air Force for her efforts in reinforcing ceramic plates in body armor with carbon fibers. She was recognized during a State Board of Education meeting November 29, receiving a certificate from State Superintendent Sandy Garrett in Oklahoma City.

The body armor currently used by U.S. forces is basically comprised of ceramic plates placed inside of Kevlar sleeves. Through her research, Melissa Carvell determined the strength of the plates could be improved by more than 8,000 times by reinforcing them with carbon fibers.

The ceramic plates used in body armor are notably strong in compression but weak in tension, meaning they can shatter upon impact. Carvell’s idea was to reinforce the back of the plates with two layers of carbon fibers at 90-degree angles to each other.

Carvell’s work earned a second place finish in the Engineering Materials and Bio-Engineering category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, held in Albuquerque in May. Carvell won a $1,500 cash prize in the science fair.

The International Science and Engineering Fair featured more than 1,500 students competing in several categories. The students hailed from more than 50 countries and territories. Among the judges were five Nobel Laureates, former Nobel Prize winners in science and engineering.