SEP 10 – Donata Gierczycka – MECH Research Seminar Series

Donata Gierczycka combines her industry and academic experience working on the improvement of vehicle occupant safety, and developing tools to mitigate injury in contact sports. She received her PhD in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering from the University of Waterloo, specializing in digital human modeling, human injury tolerance, and safety restraint performance. Her MASc in Automation and Robotics completed at the Warsaw University of Technology, Poland, was focused on anthropometry-specific passive safety systems in cars. Donata collaborated with automotive suppliers (adaptive restraints and crash absorbing structures), and manufacturing industry (application of expert systems to reduce wear of hot forging tools). She was awarded the Toyota Canada Automotive Safety Graduate Scholarship, and currently works as a Research Associate at the University of Waterloo.

Evaluation of Occupant Response in Side Impact Crash Scenarios Using Human Body Models

Vehicle crashes remain amongst the top ten causes of fatalities worldwide, while long-term disabilities resulting from accidental injury present significant societal costs and a reduction in quality of life. Further advancement of accident and injury prevention calls for new research tools. Continually increasing computational capacity facilitates complex numerical simulations that utilize detailed vehicle, restraint, and human finite element models. However, the potential for virtual design and crash testing environment has not been fully realized yet due to the novelty and complexity of the models, and due to the level of expertise required to utilize them. This research targets the development and application of computational Human Body Models to provide new insight into occupant response during vehicle crash scenarios, bridging the gap between physical crash test dummies and real human vehicle occupants. The process of Human Body Model development, validation, and verification will be briefly summarized during the talk. The seminar will focus on the application of Human Body Models to address a continuing challenge to improve side impact safety. In North America, side crashes constitute 25% of road deaths. While the effectiveness of side curtain airbags in reducing head injury was confirmed by epidemiological studies, thoracic side airbags did not bring the expected reduction of chest trauma. Refinement of side restraints requires a novel methodology to assess the sensitivity of occupant surrogates to pre-crash parameters, and to examine the limitations of current experimental vehicle compliance tests. Two Human Body Models were integrated with mid-sized sedan and restraint models. Simulations identified potential improvements for interaction between the occupant and thoracic side airbags.