Composite Structural Engineering Technology (CSET) Course

Composite Structural Engineering Technology (CSET) Course

Sponsored by:
Wichita State University Office for Workforce, Professional & Community Education and National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) 

CSET Course Description

This course covers the essential topics pertaining to composites engineering and the certification process. Its contents provide students with an awareness of the composites engineering process framework through course materials and practical applications through online discussions. Topics include engineering, manufacturing, maintenance, and certification of composite materials associated with civil aircraft structures. The course content is in accordance with FAA AC 20-107B (Composite Aircraft Structure).

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This course was developed through the collaboration of Wichita State University, industry subject matter experts, and the Federal Aviation Administration. The course is taught online, includes all teaching materials, and features real-world discussions facilitated by subject matter experts and FAA representatives. Depending on prior knowledge and experience, students will spend approximately ten hours per week reviewing materials, participating in online discussions and testing their knowledge. A 2-day hands-on lab is offered in Wichita, Kansas.

After finishing a 1-week period of self-study of fundamental composites and successfully completing an examination, students proceed to more advanced topics through an on-line, interactive learning experience via Blackboard. Teaching methodology includes online discussions facilitated by subject matter experts, relevant documentation, and audio/visual aids. A hands-on lab will be offered separately at future times. Completion of the lab is required to receive a CSET certificate.

Course Objective

  • Students will describe engineering principles for substantiating composite airframe structures during all stages of aircraft product certification.

Who Should Attend?

  • Professionals responsible for the engineering of composites
  • Individuals having a general background in composites and/or engineering technology.
  • Civil aviation regulatory authorities and industry designees who participate in the certification of composite structures.

Syllabus Summary

1. Prerequisite
Basic knowledge of composite materials and structures technology.  Independent study materials are provided.  This may require 5-10 hours of study.

2. On-line Content Outline (Red annotations indicate approximate course content)

  • Introduction  (summary of current composite technologies for aircraft certification applications, key technical issues, FAA safety and certification initiatives, and course objectives) 2%     
  • Challenges of Composite Applications (technical, economic and other challenges facing the application of composite material to aircraft structural components, design and process options, lack of standardization and trained workforce, and evolving technologies) 3%
  • Design, Material and Fabrication Development (including product development teams, material and process control, structural design and analysis, environmental issues, bonded and bolted joints, protection of composite structure, flutter/crash/fire/lightning strike considerations, manufacturing and maintenance interfaces, and statistical methods for generation of allowables) 45%
  • Proof of Structure (including regulations and guidance, key concepts, compliance approaches, considerations for manufacturing defects and in-service damage, repeated load reliability and load enhancement factors, building block approach to testing and analysis, full-scale testing, and in-service inspection plans) 31%
  • Quality Control of Composite Manufacturing Processes  (including quality control requirements related to composite manufacturing, the application of differing quality control methods, conformity issues, typical defect dispositions and change approval) 3%        
  • Maintenance Interface Issues (including regulations/guidance, source documents (SRMs etc.), maintenance teamwork, damage detection and assessment, allowable damage limits,  repair processing, and allowable damage and repair substantiation) 6%
  • Additional Considerations (including flutter and other aeroelastic issues, crashworthiness, fire and fuel tank safety, and lighting strike issues) 10%

Lab Location:

National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT)
4004 N Webb Rd. Wichita, KS 67226
No parking permit is needed.

Sample Slides

PDF of the Slide

Powerpoint with Author notes


Charles Seaton
Charles Seaton has over 30 years of experience in aircraft design, manufacturing, education and aircraft modification. Charles applies his extensive aerospace and education development experiences to a wide range of technical and business curricula. He leads and consults in global education initiatives which promote safe practices with composite materials in aerospace and other industries. He has taught and developed curricula with international composite experts and educators in the field of composite technology repair and engineering for over ten years, including being a project leader in the FAA’s education initiatives. Charles has been an active member and chairman of the Commercial Aircraft Composite Repair Committee training task force which promotes standard work practices.

Christos Kassapoglou
Christos Kassapoglou worked at Beech Aircraft (1984-1987) heading the analysis effort for the certification of the all-composite Starship I. He then joined the Structures Research group of Sikorsky Aircraft (1987-2001) where he worked on the development of analysis methods focusing on damage tolerance of composites and weight and cost optimization of composite airframe structures. Since 2001 he has been consulting with various US and European companies on design and analysis of composite structures. Current, he is an Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. He has over 50 publications in refereed journals on composites analysis and design, cost-weight tradeoffs of composite structures, damage tolerance and fatigue of composites. One book: Design and Analysis of Composite Structures, Wiley, 2010, and a book chapter, “Structural Design – Tradeoffs” in Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering, eds R. Blockley and W. Shyy, John Wiley: Chichester. 2012.

Course development was supported by FAA and industry engineers, bringing decades of experience in both regulatory and engineering practice to the course development. In addition to the above instructors, FAA representatives will participate in the online discussions when aviation regulations, guidance or policy questions arise.

Rusty Jones
Rusty Jones is the Senior Technical Specialist NDI/Composites Maintenance in the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service, AIR-100, Design, Manufacturing and Airworthiness Division. He has an extensive background in maintenance programs development and operational issues. His primary interest is in the field of Nondestructive Inspection (NDI) and composites. His service with the FAA has included Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI), National Resource Specialist (NRS) for NDI, and Branch Manager for Special Projects in the Aircraft Maintenance Division.. In addition to his FAA experience, he has an operational background from having worked for over 16 years at various airlines. During his time in the industry, he held jobs including mechanic/inspector, nondestructive technician and NDI manager.
FAA Experience: 20 Years
Industry Experience: 16 Years

Mark Freisthler
Mark Freisthler is an aerospace engineer currently assigned to the Transport Airplane Directorate (TAD) standards staff, airframe, and cabin safety branch. Prior to his current assignment he worked in the Airframe Branch of the Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (SACO). Since joining the FAA in 2002, Mark has supported
many transport airplane certification programs. He also represents the transport airplane directorate to a number of government/industry consortiums such as MMPDS and CMH-17. Mark’s main experience is in the development of material design values for composite and metallic materials.
FAA Experience: 10 Years
Industry Experience: 21 Years

Larry Ilcewicz
Dr. Larry Ilcewicz is the FAA Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor (CSTA) for Composite Materials. He started work with the FAA in 1998. Since joining the FAA, he supported many small airplane, rotorcraft, and transport aircraft certification programs. He has also worked on accident investigations and service problems involving composites. These experiences helped Larry develop an international plan for composite safety and certification initiatives.
FAA Experience: 15 Years
Industry Experience: 19 Years

Allen Rauschendorfer
Allen Rauschendorfer is the FAA Composites Technical Specialist for the Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (SACO). He is currently responsible for the Continued Operational Safety (COS) of the Boeing 787 and 767 programs. In his previous five years of working at SACO, he was responsible for the airframe certification on the Boeing 787-8 program. Allen’s experience in airframe design for new aerospace products for both military (B-2, A-6 Rewing, F-22, A-12, P-8A, Airborne Laser) and commercial (757-300, 777-100, 737-600/700/800) programs have given him an understanding of real world design and manufacturing of composite material
applications as well as the certification challenges facing composites usage on commercial aerospace products.
FAA Experience: 5 Years
Industry Experience: 22 Years

CSET Links

Course Announcement

Online Registration


Online Course: April 1 - June 28, 2019

A hands-on laboratory will be offered on May 1 & 2, 2019. Students may choose which laboratory session they attend.

Registration Fee:      

Tuition is $1,600.00 for the online course.

The hands-on laboratory will be an additional fee. Registration is limited to 22 individuals and will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. Course materials are included with tuition.

You may register and pay on-line here.  Space is limited so register quickly to reserve your spot.  If the class fills prior to your registering you will be placed on a waiting list for possible future classes. *FAA staff please call for a special rate.

Cancellations and Refunds: 

All cancellations must be made in writing. A 15% administrative fee will be assessed on all cancellations (this includes purchase orders). There will be no refunds after March 29, 2019. WSU reserves the right to cancel the program due to lack of enrollment. In that event, WSU will refund any pre-paid course fees but will not be responsible for any incidental or consequential damages.