With the recovery process for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria still on everyone’s minds, the “disruptive innovation” theme of this year’s CAMX seems particularly apropos. The show kicked off on Tuesday, Dec. 12, with the CAMX Live! panel – three engineers who are using composites to change the way the world views a wide range of markets.

One of the panel’s speakers, James Antonic, president and CEO of Ft. Myers, Fla.-based Composites Building Structures (CBS), noted that composite building systems have the potential to change the way we rebuild in the wake of a natural disaster.

As Antonic explained during his presentation, for the past 15 years, CBS has been working toward “creating a new paradigm in building and construction” through a modular system that allows engineers to prefabricate modular parts with composites. The system uses pultruded GFRP panels to assemble custom buildings for areas hit hard by hurricanes and tornadoes. In 2005, CBS was included in a New York Times article about the rebuilding options available to the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Antonic says the technology can help withstand hurricane and tornado force winds greater than 350 mph.

Another CAMX Live! speaker, Kerry Manning, a structural engineer leading Boom Technology’s aircraft structures division, is also focused on air speed. The company is best known for the work it is doing to bring back commercial supersonic flight with its XB-1 aircraft. In June, Boom unveiled the completed design for a demonstrator of the XB-1 during the Paris Air Show. When it flies next year, the XB-1 demonstrator is expected to be the world’s fastest civil aircraft.

“Not only has Japan Airlines taken options on 20 of the aircraft, but they’re also investing in Boom,” said Manning. “Having flown from Tokyo to Denver, I look forward to making that trip in half the time.”

Usually, a project of this magnitude would be incredibly expensive. However, thanks to Boom’s unique approach, the company has condensed the manufacturing process by using carbon fiber prepreg from TenCate and 3-D printed components from Stratasys.

Oracle Team USA designer Kurt Jordan, flew from New Zealand to explain how composites have become a staple of catamaran construction for the prestigious America’s Cup. Most of sailing’s elite racing teams, including Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand, rely on composite expertise from local manufacturers and designers. Jordan has been a part of engineering teams that have developed composite yachts for the past eight America’s Cup, including the two winning teams from 2007 and 2013. Unlike traditional boats, these racing catamarans feature CFRP prepreg instead of GFRP. As teams unveil their designs for the 2021 race, composites will once again be a primary building material.