March 4, 2003
SEAS Receives $5 Million Grant for Automotive Safety
The School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) received a $5 million
grant from the Ford Motor Company to conduct research on automotive
safety. Kennerly H. Digges, research professor of engineering and applied
science, director of biomechanics and safety at the Federal Highway
Administration/ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (FHWA/NHTSA)
National Crash Analysis Center (NCAC) at GWs Virginia Campus,
will direct the project aimed at further improving the safety of todays
automobiles, with specific attention to child safety.
The funding was part of an out-of-court settlement that did not involve
GW. Both Ford and the plaintiffs class counsel agreed that more
value could be added to the settlement by contributing to research efforts
in safety. They also unanimously agreed that Digges was the best person
to direct this research.
This is a unique opportunity and an honor for the NCAC,
said Digges. We will be able to collaborate with other research
universities and institutes and pull the research together utilizing
the skills of the best-of-the-best. This substantial amount of funding
will allow us to accomplish some major goals and most importantly will
save lives on our highways.
As part of the grant agreement, the NCAC received a $2.5 million research
grant and Digges was authorized to designate the remaining funds to
other institutions with established programs in safety research.
According to Nabih Bedewi, associate professor of engineering and applied
science, and director of the NCAC, it is unusual for a University to
be given the authority to administer such large portions of a research
grant, and it demonstrates the extraordinary confidence Ford Motor Company
and the plaintiffs have in Digges, NCAC, and GW.
Along with targeted efforts in child safety, it is expected that the
NCAC will lead research activities in areas such as crash investigations;
compatibility of large and small vehicles during impact; and analysis
of advanced airbag and safety belt systems, among other topics. Special
emphasis will be placed on directing funding toward segments of the
population with the greatest needs. While the general motoring public
will be the primary benefactors of the research, it also will provide
a foundation for numerous masters and doctoral degrees at GW and
other selected universities.
This award is a testament to the outstanding contributions GW
has made to the field of automobile safety, said Timothy Tong,
dean of SEAS. With this funding, we will be contributing to saving
lives while developing the leaders and engineers that will carry on
these efforts for years to come. Its a winning situation for everyone.
In accepting the grant Digges cited Nobel Prize-winning mathematician
John Nash, made famous by the 2001 Ron Howard movie A Beautiful
Dr. Nash said that if you could negotiate a settlement where everybody
wins, you have achieved a perfect settlement, said Digges.
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