CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 5, 1999
L.D. Chen named director of National Advanced Driving
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa has named
L.D. Chen, professor of mechanical engineering in the UI College of Engineering,
director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) project, effective
Chen, who has served as interim NADS director since
October 1998, was selected following a nationwide search. NADS, formally scheduled
to open next summer, is expected to become the world's leading center for
driving simulation research, including the study of human factors associated
with both on-road and off-road vehicle dynamics and driving safety.
UI President Mary Sue Coleman said that NADS, and
Chen's role in the project, will be an important part of the university's
research effort in the next decade. "I welcome Professor Chen's leadership
in establishing NADS as the preeminent research facility of its kind in the
nation and the world. NADS promises to further enhance the reputation of the
University of Iowa," she said.
UI Vice President for Research David J. Skorton, whose
office oversees NADS, said that Chen's research background and leadership
experience will make him an excellent project leader. "I am very pleased that
L.D. Chen will direct this new national research resource," Skorton said.
"His commitment to excellence, as demonstrated through his outstanding academic
and administrative skills, along with the superb staff of the program, will
ensure the success of NADS."
Currently under construction at the University of
Iowa's Oakdale Research Park, NADS will be the world's most advanced driving
simulator for researching safety issues, such as the effects of medical conditions
on drivers, and designing safer highways and vehicles without the need to
construct expensive prototypes.
Researchers from medicine, engineering, computer science
and other fields will conduct interdisciplinary research aimed at reducing
the estimated 90 percent of all vehicle crashes in which human behavior is
a factor. NADS is useful to researchers from government, industry and universities
for the study of such phenomena as the effects of fatigue, aging, medical
conditions, impairments, vehicle engineering and highway design on driver
performance. The $56 million project includes a $44 million federal government
contract with TRW Inc. of San Diego to construct the simulator; and UI and
state contributions, including the building and software, of about $12 million.
Chen, who served as chair of the department of mechanical
engineering from 1992 until 1998, joined the UI faculty in 1982. He currently
is involved in several automotive-related research projects, including one
funded by Honda to develop computer simulation techniques for predicting fuel
cell performance and another funded by General Motors and the U.S. Department
of Transportation to create a laboratory for basic and applied research on
airbags. The airbag project is directed jointly by Chen and P. Barry Butler,
interim dean of the College of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering.
Chen is also principal investigator of a four-year,
$490,000 NASA-funded project to design jet engines to burn cleaner and more
reliably. His investigation, called ELF (for Enclosed Laminar Flames), flew
aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in November 1997. Chen and his colleagues
are studying data gathered during the mission with the hope that his findings
will help prevent flame-out in jet engines and even make the flames in gas
fireplaces and furnaces more stable.
Prior to coming to Iowa, Chen served as assistant
professor and research associate at Penn State University, where he received
his doctorate in 1981 and his master's degree in 1979, both in mechanical
engineering. He earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from
National Taiwan University in 1974. He is the author or co-author of more
than 50 professional journal articles and a member of the American Society
of Mechanical Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education and the
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA), through a nationwide competition conducted by the National Science
Foundation under an interagency agreement with NHTSA, selected the UI as the
site for NADS in 1992 and is developing it as a cooperative venture with the
university. NADS was originally conceived by Edward Haug, Carver Distinguished
Professor, who is currently engaged in NADS research program development and
a phased retirement program at the university.