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Senior design team members Kristine Adriano, Daniel Carrasco, Andrew Pitt, Wayne Carter, Brian Smith, and Sean Gardner pose with a bumper designed to limit damage to vehicles under-riding the back of tractor trailers.
Senior design team members Kristine Adriano, Daniel Carrasco, Andrew Pitt, Wayne Carter, Brian Smith, and Sean Gardner pose with a bumper designed to limit damage to vehicles under-riding the back of tractor trailers.

A Virginia Tech mechanical engineering senior design team, advised by Jared Bryson of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and Professor Robin Ott, will be presenting their work at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Roundtable on May 5. The student team members – Wayne Carter, Daniel Carrasco, Andrew Pitt, Sean Gardner, Kristine Adriano, and Brian Smith – designed a bumper to limit damage to vehicles under-riding the back of tractor trailers.

According to Carter, the team facilitator, the goal of the bumper is to maintain the overlap protection in current bumper designs while improving to 30 and 50 percent overlap collision protection. Overlap refers to the percentage of the front bumper of the impacting car that strikes the rear bumper of the tractor trailer. The bumper is also designed to absorb energy to lessen the deceleration experienced by the driver in the event of a collision.

“So many Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and Virginia Tech mechanical engineering projects provide tangible benefits to the population,” said Bryson, senior mechanical systems group leader at the transportation institute. “It is wonderful when such a competent group comes together to provide a meaningful result.”

The design team began by consulting with Bryson to understand customer needs and product expectations. The team then generated several concepts and continued to narrow them down to a final design. After unveiling their final design to Bryson, the team made adjustments, generated drawings, and contacted metal working companies to fabricate their bumper.

“As the course professor, it is important to me that we teach the design process to the students by using real-world engineering examples,” said Ott. “Projects with the transportation institute and other industry sponsors are the best way to give the students this experience.”

In addition to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Roundtable, the team will be judged alongside 44 other mechanical engineering undergraduate teams at an exposition in Squires Student Center on April 29, when projects will be on display at 1 p.m. at the Squires Student Center Commonwealth Ballroom.

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