Dummy gets into Kettering

Jun 10, 2004

The latest member of the Crash Test Safety Lab team at Kettering arrived Wednesday, June 9. His name is SpartaKUs, and he will be a key player in crash test safety research at the university.

SpartaKUs is a dummy - a crash test dummy. While rather mute on most topics, he will speak volumes when all his instrumentation is installed and he begins testing for crash test safety research in the Crash Lab on the lower level of the Mott Engineering and Science Center. Matthew W. Snyder, Muskegon junior, submitted the winning name in a name-the-dummy contest on campus.

Donated by Robert A. Denton, Inc. of Rochester Hills, Mich., SpartaKUs is a 50th percentile male anthropomorphic test device (ATD). "Fully instrumented, an ATD is worth approximately $130,000," said Dr. Janet Brelin-Fornari, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering and coordinator of the Crash Lab. SpartaKUs does not currently have instrumentation, but he will be built-out for testing in early 2005.

"In addition to donating the dummy for in-house educational purposes, Robert A. Denton Inc. will give Kettering free lease of any other sized crash test dummy needed for research projects," said Brelin-Fornari.

Automotive Crash Safety was added to the Kettering curriculum in 2001. The first course, Automotive Occupant Protection, was the brainchild of Dr. Pat Atkinson, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering. The donation of the crash test dummy will bring a hands-on element to the course, as well as other courses under development.

"The Crash Lab has three components, a deceleration sled, a component test area, and a dedicated computer based classroom," Brelin-Fornari said. The deceleration sled is a large piece of test equipment on which the interior of the vehicle (also known as a "buck") is placed along with test dummies, vehicle safety systems (airbags, seat belts), instrumentation, and high-speed video. The buck is propelled down a track up to 42 mph and is decelerated using pneumatics to simulate the abrupt stop during a crash.

The component test area allows for the study of impact on specific pieces, such as the dummy's head or legs. Lastly, the computer classroom allows the students to review data from the test instrumentation and learn how to set up and perform virtual crash tests.

Undergraduates will use the lab through the Mechanical Engineering Occupant Protection course and Accident Reconstruction course. Also, a lab component to the Physics I will be implemented when the lab is complete (early 2005).

"The lab is multi disciplined," explained Brelin-Fornari, "so faculty from Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Manufacturing Engineering and Business and Science and Mathematics including Physics and Chemistry will use the lab for research."

In addition to curriculum and research, the Crash Lab will be used to augment the undergraduate and graduate learning at Kettering, and also used for community education (i.e. K through 12 education, drivers training, Safe Kids Programs), summer university programs, consulting, product development, and research.

Donors supporting the Crash Lab include: Takata, AAA of Michigan, Robert A. Denton Incorporated, General Motors Corp., Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Biomet, Autoliv, Lear, TRW, and Via Systems.

There is also support from the safety industry in the form of an executive advisory board, which helps guide the automotive Crash Safety Program at Kettering. Representatives from the contributing companies named above, as well as McLaren Regional Medical Center, Johnson Controls, Ford, Wayne State University, Delphi, TNO Madymo Automotive, Kayser-Threde, Holcomb Engineering, the Office of Highway and Safety Planning - State of Michigan and Savage Engineering participate in bi-annual meetings.

Written by Dawn Hibbard
(810) 762-9865