Computational Biomechanics

The first major focus of the center will be computational biomechanics. Until now, government and industry have both depended on mechanical crash dummies for automotive safety research and development. While these dummies have led to many improvements in crash safety, modeling offers the potential for faster advances without the need for prior dummy and instrumentation development.

There is now general recognition within both government and industry that computer based human finite element models will be the foundation for future safety testing and development. The sustained exponential increase in computational speed is expected to continue and will make the use of these complex models feasible. Medical researchers will necessarily need to lead the way and we are the foremost research group in the world utilizing medical imaging data from real-life crashes to determine the effect of body composition on injury tolerance.

We see clear signs of markedly increased industrial and governmental funding for human body modeling research in the near future and this center will be optimally positioned to lead the international effort if it has the institutional support and facilities to recruit faculty with expertise in computational biomechanics. To the extent that test dummies and instrumentation are needed for validation or regulatory testing, advances in human finite element modeling will provide necessary input for dummy development and injury reference values. These computational human body models also have tremendous potential outside automotive safety such as the development of medical devices or artificial joints as well as virtual trainers.