Designing a better car: ASDL's Youngchul Park

Designing a better car: ASDL's Youngchul Park
Atlanta, GA

Hyundai Motors this month singled out AE graduate student Youngchul Park for a top award as a part of the company's 4th Annual Global Top Talent Forum.

Hyundai Motors this month singled out AE  graduate student Youngchul Park  for a top award  as a part of the company's 4th Annual Global Top Talent Forum.

Park, 35, was flown to Paris, France in early October to receive the award in the vehicle performance category for his presentation on improving current automotive technology. Park gave that presentation at a 3-day forum in San Francisco this past August.

In addition to the all-expenses-paid trip to the Paris Auto Show, Park received a $3,000 prize and a job offer from Hyundai Motors for when he finishes his graduate studies, sometime in 2016.

Park's talk derived from his research at AE's Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL), where he  has used a cellular automata model and a hierarchical design process to simplify the problem faced by automotive engineers when the use of lighter materials allows for greater fracture and fatigue damage in the finished vehicle. His research is based on work he completed with his mentors, Dr. Dimitri Mavris and Dr. Neil Weston in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL).

The trio's work was summed up in "Simulation of Distributed Co-Crack Propagation with Cellular Automata Model by Time Warp Synchronization."

Park said that the research on automotive design was a natural outgrowth of his work in aerospace engineering, where light-weight, durable materials are critical to all vehicle designs. Applying those concepts to cars presented some intriguing challenges, however; cars experience unique stress and fracture behavior that has to be specifically addressed. 

"The lighter materials make the car more fuel efficient, but they also have problems because they develop multiple cracks," he said.

"Traditional damage tolerant design (DTD) analysis only looks at one crack in the system. I wanted to see what the cumulative impact was for multiple cracks, caused by amplitude stress over the entire life of  the vehicle."

His research suggested that by simplifying the DTD problems at each step in the design, engineers can follow a hierarchical design process that will allow them to produce a safer, lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicle. Park said he will continue to work on this concept as a part of his dissertation.

Park earned a masters in mechanical engineering in his native Korea before starting a graduate program in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. He looks forward to perhaps joining industry one day, but admits that he would be very tempted to continue working with Mavris, his mentor, after earning his doctorate.

"I would not have received this award without his support and advice," he said.