Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Nithiam T. Sivaneri.


The need to provide enhanced occupant protection for all impact conditions experienced in automobile crashes poses a great challenge. Several safety features such as seatbelts and airbags have been developed to reduce occupant injuries in the event of a crash. However, new studies have indicated that even with these safety features, head impact with the upper interior components have resulted in many injuries leading to fatalities in certain impact conditions such as side collision and rollover. Recent regulations imposed by NHTSA concerning head impact scenarios in automotive crashes are designed to provide maximum head impact protection against several locations on the upper interior components of the vehicle. To evaluate the head impact protection of the interior components, NHTSA introduced a performance criterion called as HIC(d) and specified it to not exceed 1000 as a result of the head impact.;Meeting these new head impact requirements while maintaining structural integrity of the vehicle necessitates a design methodology that can effectively be used in the design of safer automobiles. This research considers one of the main structural members of the vehicle that is required to provide head impact protection, viz., an A-Pillar. Using the finite element method, a generic cross-section of an A-Pillar is constructed and is used to investigate and compare the performances of aluminum and steel as structural material for meeting government head impact requirements.;For a given vehicle, estimation of stopping distance required to absorb the head impact energy is very useful during the early stages of vehicle design. This research also analyses three different types of trim designs for an A-Pillar at two different impact conditions and establishes a relationship between the stopping distance and the performance criteria, HIC(d). Further this research studies the use of plastic ribs as a countermeasure and develops a method for optimum plastic rib design.