Present position: Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Head of the Center for Virtual Proving Ground Simulation
Degrees: B.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas
How you describe your research at cocktail parties: I tell people I do systems modeling and experimentation. My real interest is in how you test and evaluate complex systems.
Are systems getting more complex? Absolutely, especially when you consider the ability today to embed smartness into machines. The challenge for engineers is to make sure this complex system they've designed is actually going to work.
Are you impressed that some things work at all? I'm more impressed at how far engineers have been able to come in the past with limited tools.
What software tools do you use? LabVIEW, MATLAB, Simulink, and MSC.Adams, and LMS-CAE DADS.
What do you study in your lab? A big challenge in automotive design is the limited ability to predict certain physical phenomena. The road/tire interaction, for example, is a complex process that changes depending on the road surface, age and wear of the tires, and so on. We're studying what happens where the "rubber hits the road," by evaluating the braking system on a 1/5th scale toy car.
Wouldn't using full-size cars be better? The beauty of using scaled vehicles to test out real-time control algorithms is that you can do it at a very low cost within a small test environment. And, if for some reason the algorithm fails when we're sending the car down the ramp, a scale model is easier to catch.
When is enough analysis enough? That's the question we need to answer. We are working on developing guidelines that help engineers figure out what they should test and when they should test it.
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