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Engineering design and simulation center gets revamp

As part of the recent renovation of CEDAS' driving simulator, a ring-screen system was designed and installed that wraps around the car and provides a more realistic and 360-degree representation of conditions drivers encounter. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CORY NEALON

Published September 3, 2015

Much has changed in the past year at the New York State Center of Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII).

Yet a lot remains the same.

The center, known in Western New York and beyond for its engineering design and simulation work, has a new name, a new director and updated technology. Changes aside, its mission remains the same: industrial outreach, academic research and engineering education.

Now called the Center for Engineering Design and Applied Simulation (CEDAS), the center is led by longtime UB faculty member Harrison W. Kelly. He took on the role after the previous director, Kemper E. Lewis, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, became department chair.

“Our expertise in modeling, simulation, visualization, interactive environments, cyberinfrastructure and advanced design theory helps industrial partners achieve competitive advantages by solving complex design problems, and it also promotes innovation in product design and manufacturing,” says Kelly, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

The center was able to overhaul its two vehicle driving simulators, located in Furnas Hall, due in part to ongoing support from Moog, the East Aurora-based designer, manufacturer and integrator of precision motion-control products and systems.

The motion-based simulator features the front end of a car mounted on a platform that moves up and down and side to side to simulate how a car reacts to turns, changes in elevation and other road conditions. It includes a stereo sound system that emulates noises heard inside and outside the vehicle.

The simulator previously employed multiple, flat projection screens to display street signs, buildings, automobiles and other elements that drivers encounter. As part of the recent renovation, the center designed and installed a ring screen system that, with a 16-foot diameter, wraps around the car, providing a more realistic and 360-degree representation of conditions drivers encounter.

The second simulator, which is fixed-based (no motion), previously used television monitors that were placed in front of the driver. It now features a four-wall, cube-screen system that surrounds and immerses the driver and delivers more accurate and engaging portrayals of driving conditions. The simulator can be reconfigured for other purposes, such as aircraft, industrial, entertainment and other applications.

“The recent upgrades to our driving simulators, thanks in part to the continuing generosity of Moog, have greatly enhanced our ability to conduct next-generation transportation research and offer driving education and training programs to inexperienced drivers in Western New York,” says Kevin F. Hulme, senior research associate at CEDAS.

The center continues to offer a 10-hour driving-simulation certificate course to teenage and inexperienced drivers seeking a safe environment to complement traditional driving-education programs and prepare for obtaining a learner’s permit. It also is developing a shorter certificate program to assist international college students obtain their New York State driver’s license.

The center is establishing a nominal fee for entry to these programs. More information regarding the specifics of the programs and fee amounts will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, more information about the center is available online.