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Ronnal Reichard

Professor | College of Engineering and Science - Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

Affiliate Faculty | College of Engineering and Science - Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences

Contact Information

Personal Overview

Dr. Reichard’s research interests focus on composite materials and structures, and range from enhancing toughness of composite materials to designing efficient and cost effective composite structures.  Specific projects of interest include designing composite structures for cars, trucks, buses, RV’s, recreational boats, race boats, yachts, ships, naval vessels, theme park ride vehicles, aircraft, lunar vehicles, bridges, buildings and houses.

Educational Background

B.S. Mechanical Engineering

M.S. Mechanical Engineering

Ph.D. Engineering Mechanics

University of New Hampshire

Professional Experience

Ronnal P. Reichard worked as a post-doctoral student at the University of Washington and NOAA from 1979 to 1981, after which he joined the Ocean Engineering faculty at Florida Institute of Technology, where he served from 1981 to 1991 as Assistant Professor of Ocean Engineering and Associate Professor of Ocean Engineering.  Dr. Reichard then founded a series of small businesses (Structural Composites Inc., Compsys Inc., Advanced Composites Technology Inc., The Composites Group Inc., Composite Investors Inc.) over the next 20 years, serving as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors.  All of the companies he formed are still in business.  He served as Adjunct Faculty at Florida Institute of Technology from 1992 to 2008.  He was the Technical Director of the U.S. Navy CECMT Marine Composites Technology Center from 1992 to 2004. He has served on the National Academy of Science and Engineering Committee on Marine Composites, and been invited to speak to the National Academy of Science and Engineering Committee on Composites in Infrastructure (speaking on composites for large structures) and the National Ship Technology Symposium (speaking on composites in ship construction).  He is the founder and Chairman of the International Conferences on Marine Applications of Composite Materials.  Dr. Reichard is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, American Society of Testing and Materials, American Boat and Yacht Council, Society of Automotive Engineers.

Major Design Projects

  • Chief Engineer and designer, composite floor system for Spirit of Freedom bus, ARBOC Technologies. (note: saved 2000 lbs. of weight, allowing increase from 23 to 33 passengers)

  • Chief Engineer and designer, fifth wheel composite floor and chassis, Bel Aire RV. (note: saved 2100 lbs. of weight)

  • Chief Engineer and designer, light weight, shock mitigating RHIB for US Navy.

  • Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer for NASA LANCE project. Designed, analyzed, fabricated and tested composite bulldozer blade for the lunar rover. (note: received achievement award from NASA)

  • Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer for U.S. Navy Composite Twisted Rudder program. Designed, tested and qualified first composite rudder for Naval Combatant.

  • Chief Composites Engineer for Mine Hunter-Coastal (MHC-53) Ship for U.S. Navy (Avondale, Industries, Inc.). Overall engineering design review and finite element analysis, GRP foundation review and design change recommendations

  • Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer/Designer for Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) MARITECH Program to develop a composite ship superstructure system. Design and analysis of composite component fabrication, joining technology for assembly of ship superstructure at Ingalls Shipbuilding

  • Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer for design and manufacturing process development, and first article fabrication of composite rudder for U.S. Navy Mine Countermeasure ships (MCM)

  • Chief Engineer for design and fabrication of composite oil and waste oil retention tanks for the U.S. Navy’s Mine Hunter Program (MHC)

  • Chief Composites Design Engineer for a number of composite theme park ride vehicles, including Back to the Future, Jaws, King Kong, Earthquake, T2-3D, Jurassic Park, Spiderman, Dr. Doom, The Mummy, The Simpsons, all for Universal Studios.

  • Chief Engineer for SC portion of fabrication and testing the forward director compartment for DDG51

  • Chief Engineer for design of PRISMA pre-form hull framing systems for recreational boat builders

  • Chief Engineer for Naval Surface Warfare Center Swimmer Delivery Vehicle fabrication of top-skins, motor shrouds and tail-cone

  • Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer for design of fire resistant composite shipboard ventilation ducting for U.S. Navy

  • Chief Engineer for composite wall and roof panels for the U.S. Air Force Modular Extendable Rigid Wall Shelter (MERWS)

  • Principal Investigator and Chief Engineer for stealth composite louver development project with Rockwell

Current Courses

Fluid Mechanics

Engineering Materials

Composite Design

Design of SES Vessels

FEA of Composite Structures

Testing Composite Materials and Structures

Selected Publications

Hagan, J., R. P. Reichard, K. Coughlan, K. Rotkiske, J. Shuman, A. Smith, “Design and Implementation of Membrane Hull Technology in Recreational Small Craft”, SNAME Maritime Conference, Seattle, WA, Nov. 2016.

Volz, S.E., R.P. Reichard, M. Nichols, “A Low Cost, Light Weight FRP Composite Bridge Deck”, Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) Conference, Miami, Fl, December 2017.

Gheryani, A. A., D. C. Fleming, R. P. Reichard, "Nonwoven Polyester Interleaving for Toughness Enhancement in Composites" submitted Journal of Composite Materials, December 2018.          Manuscript ID JCM-18-1010.

US Patents: 11,400,987; 11,313,124; 10,919,579; 10,829,163; 10,465,348; 10,329,763; 10,239,265; 0,151,072; 8,474,871; 6,755,998; 6,004,492; 5,830,308

Recognition & Awards

Tau Beta Pi (engineering honor society)

NASA Achievement Award

Congressional Technology Medal of Merit

ACMA Pioneer of the Composites Industry


Interleaving tough materials between plies of high strength, high modulus materials to enhance the toughness of FRP laminates.

Design of Shock Mitigating Hull and Deck Structures for High Speed Planing Craft

Metal/Composite Hybrid Materials

Research & Project Interests

Light weight FRP highway bridge decks

Light weight, shock mitigating, high speed boats

Light weight structures for car, truck, bus and RV applications

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